Richard Kirklin To Play On Planet Basketball's All-Star Team

May 7, 2001

PULLMAN, Wash. - Richard Kirklin, a sophomore on the Ole Miss men's basketball squad, has been selected to Planet Basketball's All-Star Team, which will travel to New Zealand May 21 through June 1. Chris Croft, an assistant coach at Washington State, will serve as the squad's head coach.

The team, sponsored by Baltimore, Md., based Planet Basketball, consists of 10 college basketball players representing four states. The all-star squad will hold a mini-camp May 18-20 in Pullman and Seattle before playing six games in 10 days in New Zealand, including a contest with the Basketball New Zealand 22-and-under team.

"This is a great opportunity for Richard," said Rebel head coach Rod Barnes. "Richard is still maturing as a player, and this tour will help his game continue to grow. I know that Richard will get the most out of this tour, and he will represent the University of Mississippi and the Ole Miss basketball program well."

Last season, Kirklin averaged 1.9 points and 0.9 boards in 34 games for Ole Miss. He shot 43.1 percent from the field and 34.6 percent from the three-point arc. Kirklin's best performance of the season came in the Rebels' 81-68 win at Vanderbilt to open Southeastern Conference play Jan. 6. The 6-foot-9 forward scored eight points and had four rebounds against the Commodores, which was his first start of the season. Kirklin also had solid games in wins over Southern Cal (8 points, 2 rebounds) Dec. 22 and Tennessee (6 points, 2 rebounds) Feb. 10. As a freshman in 1999-2000, Kirklin averaged 1.9 points and 1.7 boards, while seeing action in 30 contests.

"I am excited about this chance to play with the Planet Basketball All-Star squad," said Kirklin, who will be one of four juniors on next season's Rebel team. "It's going to be a tremendous opportunity for me to not only improve my game, but also travel to another country and learn about their way of life."

This is the second consecutive year that Ole Miss will be represented on a Planet Basketball All-Star team. Last summer, John Gunn played with the Planet Basketball squad that traveled to Finland and the Czech Republic. In the six-game tour of Europe, Gunn averaged 12.5 points and 8.2 rebounds.

This year's Planet Basketball roster also includes J Locklier and Cedric Clark of Washington State and Lonnie Thomas of Louisiana-Lafayette. Locklier was the Pacific-10 Conference's Newcomer of the Year in 2000-01.

Croft, who just completed his second season on the Washington State staff, is a Louisville, Miss., native and also coached at his alma mater, Southern Mississippi from 1993-96. Croft's staff includes Paul Johnson of Louisiana-Lafayette and Shea Taylor of Millsaps College.

"I am really excited about the upcoming Planet Basketball all-star trip," Croft said. "It is going to be a tremendous challenge for us as we compete against the best basketball teams in New Zealand. It will be a great learning experience for us educationally and basketball wise."

The Rebels completed their most successful season in school history in 2000-01 with a 27-8 overall record and an 11-5 Southeastern Conference mark. Ole Miss won the SEC Western Division title, advanced to the SEC Tournament championship game and earned an NCAA Tournament berth. The Rebels advanced to the program's first NCAA Tournament "Sweet Sixteen," before falling to national runner-up Arizona in the Midwest Regional semifinals.

 

 

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