Matt Derenbecker signed with LSU basketball as one of the nation’s top 100 prospects, started 16 of the final 17 games his freshman year, and was in line become a key cog for the Tigers in seasons to come.
Monday morning, two weeks before the start of the fall se-mester, LSU announced the sophomore was withdrawing from school.
“After some discussion with my family and the coaching staff, I have decided to take some time away from basket-ball to address some personal matters,” Derenbecker said in a university news release. “In doing so, I will withdraw from LSU immediately. I wish noth-ing but the best for my team-mates and coaches as they move forward in continuing to rebuild the program.”
The departure of Deren-becker, who averaged 6.5 points as a freshman and shot 33.6 percent from 3-point range, leaves the Tigers with four returning starters instead of five and 11 scholarship play-ers instead of 12.
“This was a decision that was not based on opportunities that were not being presented to him,” Matt’s father, John, said in a phone interview. “LSU did a great job, and the coaches did a great job, of giving Matt every chance to excel aca-demically as well as on the basketball court. We just felt as a family like there were some things Matt was missing in terms of being academically prepared for the college class-room.”
John Derenbecker, a former Vanderbilt basketball player, said he expects his son to enroll at another four-year school be-fore month’s end and continue his athletic career. He men-tioned Tulane as a possible des-tination.
“We don’t want to reopen a recruitment, and he doesn’t want to go through that again,” John Derenbecker said. “To be honest, one situation that would appeal to us if there is an op-portunity would be Tulane be-cause it is local and there are some resources his mom and I have around there that we can make available. We don’t want this to be a whirlwind tour. We do think he should be in school if at all possible when the fall semester starts.”
Matt Derenbecker is a 6-foot-7 guard/forward known for his versatility and outside shot.
After beginning his high-school career at Ponchatoula, Derenbecker transferred to Metairie Park Country Day, his father’s alma mater, as a junior and led the Cajuns to the Class 1A state championship. His senior year at Country Day, the Cajuns lost to Christian Life in the 1A final, but Derenbecker averaged 25.5 points and 9.9 rebounds and was named the Louisiana Gatorade Player of the year for the second time.
Ranked by ESPNU as the na-tion’s No. 87 prospect, he chose LSU over Stanford, Georgia Tech, Virginia, Oklahoma State and Oregon State.
Derenbecker was one of three freshmen to regularly start for LSU last season, join-ing Andre Stringer and Ralston Turner. He scored in double figures nine times, including a season-best 19-point effort at Ole Miss.
“He had placed out of over 20 hours of classes I believe going into LSU, so he’s eligible and more than on track to move toward graduation,” John Der-enbecker said. “But we think his grades need to improve, and he needs more help with that. We need to get to the bot-tom of this.”
In the LSU release, coach Trent Johnson also expressed concerns for Derenbecker.
“Matt is going through a tough time right now,” Johnson said. “Playing basketball is not important. We wish him the best as he moves forward.”
John Derenbecker said he and Matt’s mother, Trina Der-enbecker, felt that Matt may need a change of scenery.
“I don’t know if I’d call it the LSU culture,” John Deren-becker said, “but Matt is a per-sonable individual and likes the social side of his relationships. He had a big group of friends that whether they went tubing or hung out or played Nintendo games or what have you, Matt maybe had too much exposure to different social outlets. I guess that is part of LSU, but I certainly don’t think LSU was responsible for it in any way, shape or form.”
Derenbecker joins Aaron Dotson and Garrett Green as scholarship players to leave the LSU program since the end of the 2010-11 season.
Dotson landed at Utah and Green at San Diego State.