Sebastian Saiz Embracing Increased Role as a Senior
Nov. 3, 2016

By Dylan Edwards, OleMissSports.com

Last season did not go the way Sebastian Saiz planned. For the first three months of the season, he was thriving as the secondary option to Stefan Moody and averaging a double-double. The Rebels were 12-5 and very much in the postseason hunt.

However, an injury would throw both his season and Ole Miss’ off-course. Against Memphis in December, he took a brutal shot to the face, causing damage to his retina. He played for another month before the need for surgery became apparent to save his vision.

“It was one of the scariest things that had happened in my life,” Saiz said. “Going numb for a couple games in the beginning because of the hit. Then after that coming back to play and then after that going back to surgery because my retina was coming off, and I was going blind.”

Even with the surgery, it was unclear just how much vision would return to the Madrid, Spain, native.

“We didn’t know anything until after three weeks, a week after the second surgery,” Saiz said. “I went back to the doctor that everything was looking good.”

Saiz would return for the Rebels and continue his high-level of play, but it was obvious that his eye was a hindrance for the rest of the season. Without him at 100 percent, Ole Miss’ season came to an end in the SEC Tournament. This year, the senior plans on a different ending.

“It feels like I was a freshman a couple days ago,” Saiz said. “I’m a senior now. I came here because I like to win. I like going to the postseason. I’ve made one postseason in three years. We’re going down fighting. I don’t care what we have to do.”

It’s clear that the team belongs to Saiz. He’s the only player on the team that has been in Oxford for four seasons. Head coach Andy Kennedy is counting on his big man to help carry the team both on offense and defense.

“I need him to be an all-league player, and I think he is capable of doing that,” Kennedy said.

Ole Miss’ offense will be noticeably different. For the last several years, Kennedy would run plays to get guards like Marshall Henderson or Stefan Moody shots. This year, the primary scoring option will run through the post.

“I like (my role in the offense),” Saiz said. “I have to step it up. If I want this team to play well, I have to play well.”

Saiz has added a completely new dimension to his offensive arsenal. He spent the summer getting up shots to expand his range beyond the 3-point line.

“He will be a guy that we will let shoot,” Kennedy said. “I have seen him make a lot, but he has to make them when you are there or he is going to be reprimanded back to the post. He has worked hard on that. I think it has given us another dimension.”

For Saiz, recapturing his form from last season before his injury is not enough. He plans on playing on a different level and show he was only scraping the surface of his potential.

“I want to prove myself and prove to everybody that I can do way better than I was doing last year before I got injured,” Saiz said. “It’s my motivation every day to improve.”

Kennedy is not one to dole out unwarranted praise. Therefore, it speaks volumes when he praises Saiz.

“He is our leader,” Kennedy said. “I love Sebastian. I want him to go out guns blaring. He has been one of my favorite players here. I think he has a chance to go down as one of the big men in the history of our program. I really do.”

 

 

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