Oct. 29, 2010
By Joey Jones
Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations
If one word embodies the collective mindset of the 2010-11 Ole Miss basketball team, that word is “focus.”
Led by no-nonsense seniors Chris Warren and Zach Graham, the hungry Rebels will employ a business-like approach to attain their goals of a Southeastern Conference title and NCAA Tournament berth. Coming off an NIT Final Four appearance and a 24-win season, those goals are within reach.
In 2010-11, it all starts with the Rebels’ 5-foot-10 playmaker from Orlando, Fla. One of the most prolific scorers in school history, Warren will once again lead the attack from his point guard spot. In his two full seasons as the starting floor general, the Rebels have won 48 games. An All-SEC pick a year ago, he is one of two returning SEC players who averaged more than 17 points per game last season, and his school-record 111 three-pointers topped all league players.
Warren enters his senior year with 1,372 career points and has a chance to become one of the top five scorers in Ole Miss history. He is poised to shatter Aaron Harper’s record for career three-pointers just a few games into the season.
Warren is not without help, though. His senior backcourt mate, Zach Graham, is on pace to join Warren in the 1,000-point club and has been a staple of the Ole Miss lineup his entire career. With 23 wins, Graham can become the winningest player in school history.
Reginald Buckner was an SEC All-Freshman pick last year when he broke the school record for blocked shots. Juniors Trevor Gaskins and Terrance Henry also have valuable starting experience under their belts.
Entering the mix this year is Indiana transfer Nick Williams, who is already considered a team leader, as well as highly touted freshmen Demarco Cox and Dundrecous Nelson, who both hail from Mississippi.
Says fifth-year coach Andy Kennedy, “I like the pieces that we have, and I really like the personality of this team. We want to compete for an SEC Championship, which we know would then put us in a position to participate in the NCAA Tournament with an opportunity to advance. We’ve been really close in three of the four years that we’ve been here, and we hope that this is the year that we break through.”
• A 2010 All-SEC selection, point guard Chris Warren enters his senior season ranked 15th in school history with 1,372 career points, third with 239 3-pointers, third with 621 3-point attempts, fifth with 4.0 assists per game, eighth with 324 assists and 10th with a 16.9 scoring average. He needs just 40 treys to break Aaron Harper’s current Rebel record of 278. Warren also enters the 2010-11 season with a 3-pointer made in a school-record 45 straight games, the third-longest streak in SEC history.
• Ole Miss returns six players with starting experience for the Rebels (Chris Warren - 80 starts, Zach Graham - 42 starts, Terrance Henry - 16 starts, Trevor Gaskins - 9 starts, Reginald Buckner - 8 starts, Will Bogan - 7 starts) and welcomes sophomore transfer Nick Williams, who started 29 games his freshman year at Indiana.
• Senior guard Zach Graham has increased his scoring and rebounding averages in each of his three seasons, recording career highs with 9.2 ppg and 3.1 rpg last year. He is on pace to score 1,000 points as a Rebel. With 23 wins, he will become the winningest player in the program’s 100+ year history.
• Junior forward Terrance Henry closed the 2010 campaign on a strong note, posting 8.2 ppg and 5.1 rpg over the last 13 games.
• After smashing the school record for blocks in a season (64), forward Reginald Buckner was named to the 2010 SEC All-Freshman team.
• After sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, sophomore Nick Williams should be an immediate contributor in the Ole Miss backcourt. The Mobile, Ala., native started 29 games and averaged 8.9 points and 4.5 rebounds as a freshman at Indiana, where he played mostly in the frontcourt despite standing at only 6-foot-4.
• Ole Miss welcomes two of the top rated prospects from the state of Mississippi in freshmen Demarco Cox (Yazoo City) and Dundrecous Nelson (Jackson). Both were ranked among the top 100 high school seniors by various recruiting services. They are the first Rebel signees from the Magnolia State since Kennedy arrived in 2006. The last in-state signee to earn a letter for the Rebels was Kendrick Fox (Oxford) from the 2000-01 class.
• This year’s group of Rebel newcomers is not without experience at the collegiate level. Four newcomers have experience at the D-I level (Dale Hughes - Florida A&M, Steadman Short - High Point, Donald Williams - Kentucky, Nick Williams - Indiana). Hughes will have to sit out the 2010-11 season, but Short and Donald Williams are both eligible to play after transferring from junior colleges.
Players Lost Notes
• Ole Miss lost four starters from last year’s team, including Terrico White, who was selected 36th overall by the Detroit Pistons in the 2010 NBA Draft. White was the fourth-highest draft pick in school history and the first Rebel chosen since Justin Reed in 2004.
• DeAundre Cranston and Eniel Polynice both received their undergraduate degrees from Ole Miss in 2010. Cranston signed a contract to play overseas in Uruguay. Polynice declared for the NBA Draft, but withdrew his name and elected to transfer to Seton Hall for his final season. Murphy Holloway transferred to South Carolina.
Ole Miss Basketball Reaching New Heights
Since Andy Kennedy arrived in Oxford in 2006, the Ole Miss men’s basketball team has accomplished many program firsts and set numerous school records. The Rebels are on the brink of several more feats with another breakthrough season in 2010-11.
• Kennedy has led Ole Miss to three of the program’s 10 20-win seasons.
• 85 wins under Kennedy is one shy of the school record by a staff in its first four years.
• Kennedy is the second coach in school history and ninth in SEC history to record 20+ wins in three of his first four years.
• 24 wins in 2007-08 and 2009-10 are tied for second-most in school history.
• Two SEC West titles in the last four years.
• Two NIT Final Four appearances in the last three years.
• More NIT victories (seven) than in the entire previous history of the program (six).
• Nationally ranked for 15 weeks during Kennedy’s tenure, rising as high as 14th.
• Season and single-game attendance records shattered in the last four years.
• Nearly every team offensive statistical record shattered, as well as several defensive ones.
On The Brink
• Entering the 2010-11 season, Kennedy needs three wins to move into third place in career victories at Ole Miss.
• Kennedy needs 16 wins to amass the most victories by a Rebel coach in a five-year span.
• Needs seven SEC wins to amass the most league victories by a Rebel coach in his first five years.
• With another SEC West title, would become the only coach in school history with three.
• With another 20-win season, would become the only coach in school history with four.