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Former Miner Arnett Moultrie has a Chance to Flourish in the NBA

Arnett Moultrie goes up for a shot against Butler in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

With another NBA draft a few hours away, we are going to hear a lot of familiar buzzwords.  Upside, ceiling, and length, will be part of the lexicon tonight. (By the way, upside, celing, and length sound like words better suited for Bob Vila than Jeff Van Gundy…..but I digress)

Upside, ceiling, and length all apply to a young man that UTEP fans are very familiar with.  Long before Arnett Moultrie was a fringe lottery prospect, he was a spindly, lightly recruited freshman with a lot of raw talent.

As a freshman in 2008, Moultrie nearly averaged a double-double, with 8.8 ppg and 8.2 rpg.  El Pasoans expected big things for Moultrie’s sophomore campaign.  A wrinkle was thrown into those plans when Tony Barbee landed Derrick Caracter following his dismissal from Louisville.

Statistically, Moultrie’s sophomore campaign wasn’t terrible, but he could never find a great flow with Caracter clogging the middle.  Moultrie seemed to waste his incredible athleticism by settling for mid range jumpshots.

With Caracter opting for the NBA after one year at UTEP, Moultrie seemed primed to really breakout during his junior season.  There was one little problem.  Tony Barbee, the man who recruited Moultrie, became a member of the ‘War Eagle’ family in Auburn.  The new sheriff in town was Tim Floyd.  Floyd and Moultrie did not see eye-to-eye, and Moultrie opted for Mississippi State.

UTEP fans have to believe the Moultrie that blossomed in Starkville last season would have put up similar numbers in El Paso.  Moultrie captured the eye of NBA teams by averaging 16.4 points and 10.5 rebounds while shooting at a 54.9% clip.  After just one season at Mississippi State, Moultrie decided it was time to go pro.

All ‘mock drafts’ are slightly different, but Moultrie is expected to be a mid first rounder.  Because of his defense and rebounding, he will make an instant impact on any team that drafts him.  He is still not a gifted offensive player, but he will not be expected to be a big time scorer.

The player that most reminds me of Moultrie is P.J. Brown.  They are almost the exact same size and play a similar game.  Moultrie might be slightly more athletic than Brown, but as long as Moultrie defends and rebounds, he will have a long and productive NBA career.

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