Nov. 12, 2017
By Brian Scott Rippee, OleMissSports.com
When Ole Miss’ season ended in the NIT last March, Marcanvis Hymon ventured into the offseason not knowing what his role on next year’s team would be. Or if he would have one at all.
Hymon struggled with consistency at a four position at which the Rebels desperately lacked scoring. Andy Kennedy was beginning to look for other options and issued a challenge to his rising senior forward. Hymon knew there would be no guarantees going into the season. Instead of sulking, he went to work.
“Coach did challenge me this offseason, and I challenged myself,” Hymon said. From the free throw standpoint to just being able to produce. I knew I could do it. Sebastian (Saiz) being gone, I knew someone had to step up at the bigs spot. I want to do that. He challenged me and I feel like I took that head on.”
Hymon worked on his game, worked on his free throw shooting, vied to be a more consistent scorer on the offensive end of the floor and a more consistent player overall.
“It was always confidence,” Hymon said. “It is getting into the gym and getting reps. I committed myself, I got in the gym and sacrificed things that I wanted to do. I committed myself knowing it was my last year. I wanted to put it all into one year, and I went to work.”
All of that work not previously seen by many rose to the surface in Ole Miss’ 94-76 season opening win over Louisiana on Friday night. Hymon had 12 points and snared 13 rebounds on 5-of-7 shooting in 32 minutes. He provided energy on the defensive end and stepped up in the post.
“Kudos to the kid,” Kennedy said. “He had a great summer. He approached it like a veteran, like you would hope that he would. He’s played more minutes for us than anyone on our team. He is the only one that has been in the program four years. I was so proud of the way he has led. I challenged him to lead the bigs with his experience, and he was really, really good tonight.”
This team appears to be athletic at guard with a lot of scoring potential and are particularly deep at the wing. With the amount of attention opposing defenses will presumably have to put towards defending the Rebels on the perimeter, it opens the door for Hymon to get some scoring opportunities.
“With this group, I feel like there is a lot of attention on the guards and they create for us around the basket, take guys off the dribble and get to the basket,” Hymon said. “This team helps me out a lot.”
Hymon went 2-of-3 at the foul stripe and appeared more skilled with the ball in his hands in the post. The senior forward has always been known as a guy to give valuable minutes off the bench with the energy he brings. The offensive production is a product of the work he put in this summer and can serve as an asset the Rebels didn’t have a year ago.
The sense of frustration from his inconsistencies in years past is not lost on Hymon. Those thoughts creep back into his mind from time to time. He chooses to turn that into a constructive reminder of where he once was and where he does not want to slip into a return.
“It was tough,” Hymon recalled. “Sometimes I have those flashbacks and think about how I don’t want to go through that again. I flushed that from last year, but I learned from it.”
His up-and-down season wasn’t a comfortable one to endure, but one that brought along lessons to be learned.
“I watched film on it,” Hymon said. “I have gained weight and gotten stronger. I became more of a leader, and I took things head on. Last year is in the past, and I am focused on this year and the future.”
His leaderships qualities are what have impressed Kennedy the most. Hymon said he’d talk to Olejniczak soon after Friday’s game. Olejniczak struggled a little with Louisiana’s smaller lineup and had not played in game action in a long time due to him transferring two years ago. The seven-footer is sure to be a valuable part of the Rebels’ team this season, and Hymon knows that. He wants to remind Olejniczak of it.
“I will probably talk to him and keep him encouraged,” Hymon said. “This is his first time playing in this kind of arena and feel. He may get down on himself because we expect so much. I will talk to him and let him know we have more games to come. Let’s watch film and get better.”
This is Hymon’s final collegiate season. You can sense the urgency when he talks about it. It’s what has helped drive his newfound leadership. He wants to go back to the NCAA Tournament and knows the Rebels have the pieces to do just that.
“We are NCAA tournament caliber,” Hymon said. “We can compete in the tournament. We just have to take it one game at a time and get better. We have a lot of new guys so they need to learn and this will be new to them. One game at a time. We can get there.”
Hymon and the Rebels return to the court Monday night. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m.