- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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Mississippi State point guard Dee Bost will miss up to 16 games for failing to withdraw properly before the NBA draft's deadline in May and failing to maintain his academics in the spring semester and offseason.
Bost was suspended Wednesday for nine games by the NCAA after failing to withdraw before the deadline. Bost, a 6-foot-2 junior, is academically ineligible for the fall semester.
Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury told ESPN.com Wednesday night that Bost would miss the SEC opener at Alabama on Jan. 8 and debut for the Bulldogs against Ole Miss on Jan. 12. But the Bulldogs haven't finished their nonconference schedule and are still pursuing moving a game from November to December or adding a game in December that could push up Bost's debut to the SEC opener.
Bost will miss the most anticipated games on Mississippi State's nonconference schedule -- against Virginia Tech at the Atlantis Hotel at Paradise Island in Nassau, Bahamas, on Dec. 18 and the Diamond Head Classic, which begins against Washington State in Honolulu on Dec. 22 with a second game against either Baylor or San Diego. Butler and Florida State are on the other side of the bracket.
Bost declared for the NBA draft but withdrew after the May 8 deadline, claiming he didn't know the NCAA had changed a rule preventing a player from going through the draft unselected and returning to school. The NCAA investigated how Bost paid for three weeks of workouts in Las Vegas with NBA trainer Joe Abunassar in late April and early May. Abunassar told ESPN.com that Bost's bill was paid by his family.
The NCAA could have ruled Bost ineligible based on failing to adhere to the rule. This was the first test case of the new rule. The NBA had a withdrawal date of 10 days before the draft but the NCAA gave its players a new withdrawal date of May 8. Bost was given a reprieve Wednesday and handed a nine-game suspension. But the suspension won't begin until after the first semester ends because he is academically ineligible.
"At least we know now what he's going to miss," Stansbury said, "unlike last year."
A year ago, the Bulldogs had to wait through an NCAA inquiry into freshman Renardo Sidney's amateur status. Sidney wasn't allowed to play during the amateurism investigation and received a nine-game suspension that starts at the beginning of this, his sophomore and first competitive season with the Bulldogs.
That means the Bulldogs, favorites in the SEC West, will essentially have three seasons -- one without Sidney and Bost for the first nine games, one with Sidney but not Bost for the next seven games, and then the complete team for the final 15 SEC games.
Bost thanked the NCAA for giving him a second chance in a statement released by the school.
"I only wanted to test the waters and then return to Mississippi State. I realize I made a huge mistake in how I handled the situation," he said.
Bost has started 72 games for the Bulldogs and is 140 points shy of 1,000 for his career. He has 344 assists. Bost averaged 13 points and 4.4 rebounds while adding 188 assists.
Stansbury said redshirt sophomore Twany Beckham, who sat out last season because of an injury, will likely start at point guard. Junior college transfer Brian Bryant will share the position at times. The Bulldogs return off-guard Ravern Johnson, picked up highly touted Jalen Steele as a shooting guard backup and return forward Kodi Augustus.
Mississippi State missed the NCAA tournament last season with 23 wins, 9-7 in the SEC. The Bulldogs beat Jackson State in the first round of the NIT before losing to North Carolina to finish 24-12.
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.