Rhodes: "I'll Follow My Heart"

Charles Rhodes hasn't made his final decision. In fact it could be as late as 4:59.59 CT Monday before Mississippi State's All-SEC center does give the final, official word on his career plans. But based on a Sunday afternoon conversation, Rhodes is leaning towards returning for a one more season with the Bulldogs.

"It would be one more ride with Charles Rhodes, and I want it to be the best one," Rhodes told Dawgs' Bite Sunday, speaking from Houston where he was spending the weekend.

Rhodes has until 5:00 Monday to withdraw his name from the NBA's early-entry list, which he applied for back in April. Under NCAA rules, if he withdraws by that time June 18 he remains eligible for his senior season at State. If Rhodes does not withdraw his name is in the list of college underclassmen who can be drafted on June 29 by a NBA team. If drafted, in either the first or second round, he would lose college eligibility.

Though hardly sure which way he will ultimately jump, Rhodes certainly sounded Sunday as if he's reconciled to a senior season in college. Not that it would be a hardship, he stressed. "I want all the fans to know that they've been really good to me, and they've supported me for my three years. I told them that I wouldn't leave Mississippi State without winning a championship. Last year we won a piece of the (SEC) West Championship, but that's not the same thing."

Rhodes said he does see the opportunity to win that championship, or championships, as a senior even with the number of graduated or departed veterans from 2006-07. "We lost one of the best shooters I ever had in Reggie Delk, but I have no doubt that Ben Hansbrough and Barry Stewart can get it done along with all the new talent we have coming in."

Rhodes has not been listed among the probable draftees in either round by analysts who track such matters. If he were to remain in the early-entry list and not be selected, Rhodes would be eligible to return to college, though free agency might be an option. Rhodes is not thinking along that line though. In fact, he wanted it reported that while he won't be at State for the June semester of summer school he will be on campus by July and wants to add more credits towards his goal of graduation.

Such talk obviously gives every impression that Rhodes will indeed be a Bulldog one last season. Still, he has over 24 more hours left to make his decision, and while he has gotten plenty of advice and encouragement it's a choice only he can make in the end. "And I'm going to follow my heart," he said.

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