Saiz Brings Unique Experience, Skill Set To Ole Miss Hoops

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Sebastian Saiz
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Sebastian Saiz
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

Sep 5, 2013

BLOG: Saiz Bolsters Rebels' Frontline Depth

By Austin Miller, OleMissSports.com

OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss freshman Sebastian Saiz played what amounted to a full season of basketball at the highest level, as he represented his native Spain in two international competitions this summer, the FIBA Under-19 World Championships in the Czech Republic, then the FIBA Under-20 European Championships in Estonia.

“It was a great summer playing basketball in different countries, training and practicing in the morning and evenings,” Saiz said. “I'm more mature. I have more experience. I'm not as nervous playing in important games and playing with different players.”

At the U-19 World Championships, Saiz helped Spain to a fifth-place finish. He posted four double-doubles, as he nearly averaged a double-double with 9.6 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. His 9.4 rebounds per game ranked sixth among players in the tournament.

In the bronze medal game at the U-20 European Championships, he recorded tournament highs of 15 points and 13 rebounds, as Spain won 70-63 against Russia. For the tournament, he averaged 7.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.

“It’s a tremendous experience any time you get an opportunity to play in a setting such as a world championship and you're competing against the best players in your age group from across the world,” head coach Andy Kennedy said.

“He told me he played 25 games in 50 days, which is in essence almost a complete college season on a world stage against the best players in the world. And for him to perform the way he did shows what he's capable of.”

Ole Miss loses two three-year starters from last year’s team in Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner, the program’s all-time leading rebounder and shot blocker respectively.

For Saiz, there is an opportunity to immediately impact the Rebels’ frontline this season because he brings a unique skill set.

“He has got tremendous potential,” Kennedy said. “It's his versatility and ability to rebound the ball. He has an innate ability to be around the ball. He has great timing. He has extraordinary length. He's 6-foot-9 in shoes, around 233-235 pounds right now, and he's been in our weight program here for a few weeks, so I know that's going to go up, and he has a 7-foot-5 wingspan, which is very unique.”

His face-up game, Kennedy said, has been a pleasant surprise, as the Rebels started individual workouts last week. That, along with his other physical and technical skills, will help Saiz play either frontline position.

“He does a good job of making plays facing the basket,” Kennedy said. “I always knew because of his length and timing that he was going to be a shot-blocking, rebounding presence for us inside. The added bonus is that he has shown me the ability to step out to 15-16 feet and consistently knock down shots.

“Our fours and fives are pretty much the same spot, depending upon your position on the floor in a particular set or a difference of matchups. He has the ability to guard either position. And offensively because of his ability to stretch the defense and face up to make decisions away from the basket, he can help us in those spots as well.”

From his ability to rebound the ball, to his overall game, Kennedy offered two favorable comparisons for Saiz, one a former Rebel, another a current NBA player.

“He had a great instinct for the ball, and he also pursued it,” Kennedy said of Holloway, comparing him to Saiz. “And I see a lot of similarities in Sebastian. He has a different skill set and different body type, but he has the instincts for the ball, and he pursues the ball.

“He has a lot of Joakim Noah to his game. Joakim may have been bigger, but (Sebastian) plays with that wild energy. He has a similar skill set in that he can do things away from the basket, but he also realizes that rebounding and defending at the rim is the way in which he will earn minutes. I like the way he approaches the game, much like the way I respected the way Noah did.”

On and off the court, there is a transition from high school and international basketball to Division I basketball. But there is something else to Saiz.

“The thing that I am confident about with Sebastian is that he really wants to be a special player, and he's spending the time and energy that is necessary by devoting himself to that,” Kennedy said. “Every weight workout, every individual workout, he maximizes his time, and I'm constantly seeing him working on his game on his own.”

Austin Miller is a writer and blogger for OleMissSports.com. He joined the staff in June 2013 after serving as sports editor of the Daily Mississippian. Follow him on Twitter @austinkmiller

Ole Miss Gear
    Facebook
    Twitter
    Blog
    • VIDEO: Hugh Freeze LSU Postgame Presser

      Saturday, October 25, 2014 - Football

      read more

    • Three and Out: Ole Miss-LSU

      Saturday, October 25, 2014 - Football

      Three areas to watch as No. 3 Ole Miss travels to No. 23 LSU for an SEC West Showdown on Saturday. Stopping The Run Not just this year, but throughout head coach Les Miles' tenure, LSU's running game has been... read more

    • What They're Saying: Ole Miss-LSU Pregame

      Friday, October 24, 2014 - Football

      Ahead of a rivalry renewed on a national stage, complete with a visit of ESPN's "College GameDay" and the mystique of a Saturday night game in Death Valley, here's link roundup of videos and stories from local and national media... read more

    • Extra Emphasis on Special Teams Play

      Thursday, October 23, 2014 - Football

      Extra Emphasis on Special Teams Play Through the years, special teams play has provided a winning edge in the Ole Miss-LSU rivalry, and and you don't have to go all the way back to Billy Cannon's 1959 Halloween run. In... read more

    • The Season: Ole Miss Football Episode 8

      Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - Football

      The Season: Ole Miss Football - Episode 8 - Tennessee (2014) from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Freeze, Miles Talk Ole Miss-LSU Rivalry

      Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - Football

      Highlights from Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze and LSU head coach Les Miles on the SEC teleconference Wednesday, ahead of Saturday's game in Baton Rouge.For the full SEC teleconference, go here.Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze (starts at 1:06:12... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Oct. 13-19)

      Monday, October 20, 2014 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewOct. 13-19, 2014Football- Ole Miss rode its dominant defense to a 34-3 homecoming win over Tennessee on Saturday to improve to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in Southeastern Conference play.- The Rebels are 7-0 for just... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Oct. 19

      Sunday, October 19, 2014 - Athletics

      It's Sunday, so that means it's time for this week's Observations from the Best Seat in the House. There was no shortage of observations surrounding the Homecoming festivities this weekend. Let's get into it:1. When "College GameDay" visits Baton Rouge,... read more

    • Winning Formula for Rebels is No Secret

      Saturday, October 18, 2014 - Football

      The winning formula revealed itself as it has throughout the season: a dominant defense and a mistake-free offense. The Ole Miss defense forced four turnovers, while the Ole Miss offense did not commit a single turnover in a workmanlike 34-3... read more

    • VIDEO: Ole Miss-Tennessee Motivational

      Saturday, October 18, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss vs Tennessee Official Team Motivational from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Three and Out: Keys to Ole Miss-Tennessee

      Saturday, October 18, 2014 - Football

      Three areas to watch as No. 3 Ole Miss faces Tennessee for Homecoming on Saturday.'Third Down for What'Tennessee is very dangerous, Ole Miss football head coach Hugh Freeze said, because its talented, particularly if it gets momentum and confidence during... read more

    • SEC Nation Talent Talks Ole Miss on Visit

      Friday, October 17, 2014 - Football

      Highlights from today's media opportunity with SEC Nation host Joe Tessitore and analysts Tim Tebow and Marcus Spears discussing the show's visit to Oxford for the SEC matchup between No. 3 Ole Miss and Tennessee. Tessitore recalls calling the first college... read more

    • What They're Saying: Midseason Honors

      Friday, October 17, 2014 - Football

      At the halfway point of the regular season, Ole Miss is 6-0 for the first time since 1962, when it went 10-0 and earned a share of the national title. It's No. 3 ranking in the national polls is its... read more

    • Rebels Slow Offensive Tempo

      Thursday, October 16, 2014 - Football

      With a dominant defense that ranks among the nation's leaders in most statistical categories, head coach Hugh Freeze acknowledged he has changed his offensive philosophy and play-calling to limit negative plays and quick possessions. Ole Miss averaged the second-most offensive... read more

    • The Season: Ole Miss Football Episode 7

      Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - Football

      The Season: Ole Miss Football - Episode 7 - Texas A&M (2014) from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more