Nov. 1, 2013
By Austin Miller, OleMissSports.com
OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss lost three starters from last year’s NCAA Tournament team in Reginald Buckner, Murphy Holloway and Nick Williams, and will have to replace nearly 41 percent of the team’s scoring output.
With those losses, junior guard LaDarius White, the team’s third-leading returning scorer behind senior guard Marshall Henderson (20.1 ppg) and junior guard Jarvis Summers (9.1 ppg), will be expected to shoulder more of the scoring load and be more consistent in his junior campaign.
"I need him to take that next step," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "I thought we saw a natural progression between year one and two. He needs to that next step and be a guy we can depend on to be a double-figure scorer.
"He needs to be a lockdown defender for us on the wing. And he needs to be a rebounder and a facilitator off the dribble. I need him to be involved in every statistical category in order for him to play to his potential and help our team like we need."
That next step will not be the first, however, for the McComb, Miss., native in his Ole Miss career.
White dazzled in his collegiate debut with 16 points, including four 3-pointers, against Mississippi Valley State. He then closed out his freshman year strong, averaging 11.8 ppg over the final five contests, punctuated by a season-best 25 points in the NIT game against Illinois State.
As a sophomore, he played in all 36 games with 15 starts, as his playing time increased from 14.2 to 20.9 minutes per game. He raised his scoring average from 5.4 to 6.4 points per game, to go along with 3.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 20.9 minutes per game.
White emerged as another perimeter shooter to complement Henderson, as he shot 35.1 percent from 3-point range (27-of-77), which led the team. White also scored in double figures seven times, including a season-best 22 points against Kentucky.
His role will only seemingly grow on this year’s team, as he looks to help fill the void left by , Holloway and Williams.
“Everybody on this team can score,” White said. “I’m going to have to step my game up, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
On the defensive end, he has already defined himself as the team’s defensive stopper, a role he inherits from Williams and a role he played some last year when Williams was limited by a foot injury.
“Coach already told me that I’m going to guard the other team’s best player, and that’s my challenge every day,” White said. “It’s a mindset. If you feel like you can guard or just contain the other team’s best player, you’re doing your job.
“Nick (Williams) was the defensive stopper last year, and I came in and played behind him, so that was my role also.”
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.