Sept. 15, 2011
2011-12 Ole Miss Basketball Preseason Prospectus | Buy Tickets
By Joey Jones
Associate Director, Athletics Media Relations
In a world full of constant change, what doesn’t change for Andy Kennedy each year are his expectations for the Ole Miss basketball team.
Entering his sixth year as the Rebels’ head coach, Kennedy’s 105 wins are the most by any coach in program history in a five-year span, and the Rebels’ 38 victories over Southeastern Conference foes are the most by a Rebel coach in his first five seasons.
When preseason practice begins in mid-October, the Rebels will look to build on two straight seasons with 20 or more wins and a postseason berth.
Despite substantial shakeups to the Ole Miss roster and coaching staff, Kennedy views the 2011-12 team as one of his most promising yet.
“My expectations are always very high,” said Kennedy, the first coach in school history with four 20+ win campaigns. “I believe in what we’re doing. There’s a very fine line between winning and misery, and there really is no in-between. For us, the fact that we’ve won 105 games and 20 games four times in five seasons, we’ve had some success. It’s a matter of sustaining a level of consistency and when we have our opportunities, taking advantage of them.”
The challenge this year will be replacing the production lost by the graduation of guards Chris Warren and Zach Graham, who finished their careers as the third- and 18th-leading scorers in school history, respectively. Warren, a two-time All-SEC pick, leaves an especially large void after starting all but one game he played in as the Rebels’ point guard for the last four years.
“The only way I look at it is there’s opportunity there from the void of minutes that’s left from what Chris and Zach brought to the table,” Kennedy said. “No one is going to bring the exact skill set that Chris brought. What we have to do as a staff is once we’ve evaluated the abilities of our players, put them in a position to be successful.”
The onus for leadership may come from the frontcourt players for the first time in several years in Oxford.
Senior forward Terrance Henry is the veteran presence in the locker room and the team’s top returning scorer (9.7 points per game). He leads a frontcourt that also includes junior forward Reginald Buckner (6.8 points per game, team-high 6.4 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game), senior forward Steadman Short (3.2, 3.8) and sophomore center Demarco Cox (1.6, 1.9).
If junior forward Murphy Holloway is granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA and SEC, he would dramatically impact the Rebels’ frontcourt. A two-year starter in Oxford before transferring to South Carolina and now back to Ole Miss, Holloway led the Rebels in rebounding each of his two seasons and pitched in 10.1 points per game as a sophomore.
“With our returning guys and the newcomers, all of a sudden you have quality and quantity on the front line,” Kennedy said. “The key for all of them will be consistency.”
In the backcourt, the Rebels are very young but not lacking in talent. To provide the quality of minutes and production left by the departure of Warren and Graham, the coaching staff needs some of that raw talent to step up to the task.
Leading the returning crop is sophomore Dundrecous Nelson, who averaged 7.2 points per contest as a rookie and exploded for an Ole Miss freshman record 30 points at Auburn near the season’s end. Junior Nick Williams, in his fourth year at the college level, will offer the one veteran option among the guards after he posted 6.2 points and 4.0 rebounds per game a year ago.
Freshman Jelan Kendrick, the first McDonald’s High School All-American to join the Ole Miss program, is poised to contribute heavily after he becomes eligible in December. After beginning his career at the University of Memphis, he transferred to Ole Miss before playing his first collegiate game. Also expected to make immediate impacts in the backcourt are incoming freshmen Jarvis Summers, Maurice Aniefiok and LaDarius “Snoop” White.
Three new assistant coaches add to the plethora of fresh faces roaming the majestic Basketball Practice Facility on a daily basis. Former FIU head coach Sergio Rouco, former Middle Tennessee assistant Al Pinkins and former Ole Miss director of basketball operations Bill Armstrong were hired by Kennedy in the offseason to help mold the Rebels’ talented players into a unified team and take Ole Miss to the next level.
This year, the coaching staff is preaching trust. Players have to trust one another. Players have to trust the coaches. Fans need to trust the team. The team needs to trust its hard work.
“We have not made the NCAA Tournament, which is obviously one of the goals that has not been met, but my hope is that people trust the direction the program is going,” Kennedy said. “Although that goal, which is a big one in the perception of college basketball, hasn’t been met, there have been many others that have been met. Looking at where we are now from a talent standpoint and where we are in the BPF and plans for a new arena, I do think we’re moving the program in the right direction.”
The quest for an NCAA berth and another successful campaign begins Nov. 11 against Louisiana-Monroe. Another year of plowing through the rigorous Southeastern Conference slate begins Jan. 7 at LSU.
Are you ready?
1 - Terrance Henry, F, 6-10, 210, Sr., 9.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.1 bpg
20 - Nick Williams, G, 6-4, 210, Jr., 6.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.5 apg
23 - Reginald Buckner, F, 6-9, 225, Jr., 6.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.9 bpg
Other Returning Lettermen:
5 - Dundrecous Nelson, G, 5-11, 195, So., 7.2 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.4 apg
15 - Steadman Short, F, 6-9, 230, Sr., 3.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg
4 - Demarco Cox, C, 6-8, 276, So., 1.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg
Returning Player Notes:
• Ole Miss returns three full-time starters from last year’s squad (Terrance Henry – 32 starts, Reginald Buckner – 30, Nick Williams – 26) and three more players who earned multiple starting nods (Dundrecous Nelson – 7, Demarco Cox – 4, Steadman Short – 2). The Rebels also add Murphy Holloway back to the mix. Holloway was a two-year starter in Oxford before transferring to South Carolina after his sophomore year.
• Who are the Rebels’ top returning statistical leaders? Terrance Henry in scoring (9.7 ppg) and steals (0.7 spg), Reginald Buckner in rebounding (6.4 rpg) and blocked shots (2.9 bpg) and Nick Williams in assists (1.5 apg).
• One of two seniors on this year’s squad, forward Terrance Henry closed the 2010-11 season averaging 12.2 points and 6.2 rebounds over the team’s last nine games.
• Junior forward Reginald Buckner already ranks second in school history in career blocked shots (159). Last year, he broke his own school record with 95 swats and ranked third in the SEC and 15th nationally with 2.9 per game. The Memphis, Tenn., native became the first player in school history to be named to the SEC All-Defense Team.
• Sophomore guard Dundrecous Nelson showed flashes of brilliance in his rookie season, including an Ole Miss freshman record 30 points at Auburn. The Jackson, Miss., product is poised for a breakout sophomore campaign.
Newcomers (including redshirts and transfers):
3 - Jamal Jones, F, 6-8, 185, Fr.
10 - Ladarius White, G, 6-5, 205, Fr.
12 - Maurice Aniefiok, G, 6-5, 205, Fr.
13 - Dale Hughes, G, 6-2, 197, Jr.
22 - Brock Shorter, F, 6-7, 216, Jr.
24 - Will Norman, G, 6-5, 225, R-Fr.
31 - Murphy Holloway, F, 6-7, 240, Jr.
32 - Jarvis Summers, G, 6-4, 182, Fr.
34 - Aaron Jones, F, 6-8, 207, Fr.
45 - Jelan Kendrick*, G, 6-6, 205, R-Fr.
* Will be eligible following the 2011 fall semester
• In addition to a signing class of five freshmen, Ole Miss added a pair of big-name transfers to its 2011-12 roster. Jelan Kendrick, the first McDonald’s High School All-American in Rebel Hoops history, arrived in Oxford from the University of Memphis in December 2010. The redshirt freshman will be eligible to join the team after the fall 2011 semester. Junior forward Murphy Holloway, who was a full-time starter for two years at Ole Miss, has returned after transferring to South Carolina and sitting out last year. Ole Miss awaits decisions on waiver applications of NCAA and SEC transfer rules to determine his eligibility for the 2011-12 season.
• Ole Miss signed a school-record three Clarion-Ledger “Dandy Dozen” players out of the state of Mississippi in forward Aaron Jones (Pascagoula), point guard Jarvis Summers (Jackson) and guard Ladarius White (McComb). Summers led Provine High School to three state championship game appearances and was his team’s starting point guard for four straight years. Nigerian stud Maurice Aniefiok (Lagos; Huntington (W. Va.) Prep School) and Arkansas native Jamal Jones (Searcy) rounded out the Rebels’ signing class.