Rebel Basketball Lands Three in Early Signing Period

OXFORD, Miss. Andy Kennedy solidified the future of his Ole Miss basketball program Wednesday, announcing the signing of Zach Graham, Chris Warren and Kevin Cantinol to national letters of intent. All three will be eligible for the 2007-08 season as freshmen.

“We are very excited about the three players we signed during the November signing period,” said Kennedy, who is in his first fall as Rebel head coach. “We feel we have addressed many key needs of our team and have taken another step in returning our program to prominence.  In Zach Graham, Chris Warren and Kevin Cantinol, we have brought in three quality young men who will contribute to this university both on and off the basketball court.”

A 6-foot-5, 220-pound wing from Suwanee, Ga., Graham is rated the 87th-best player in the nation by Hoop Scoop and the No. 29 small forward by Rivals.com, first in the Atlanta metro area. He was a two-time all-star selection at the ABCD All-American Camp.

Graham earned All-State distinction at Peachtree Ridge High School, where he played for coach Gerald Arnold. As a junior, he averaged 21 points and 6 rebounds and posted a career high of 38 points. The son of former NFL defensive lineman David Graham, Zach is also a record-setting quarterback on the Peachtree Ridge football team.

“Zach Graham is an immediate impact recruit for our program,” said Kennedy. “At 6-5 and 220 pounds, his strength and athleticism coupled with his ability to get to the rim, gives him a real chance to make an immediate impact in the SEC next year.  Zach is a natural leader who can score in a variety of ways.  In order for our program to compete at the highest level, we need players like Zach Graham.”
               
A native of Orlando, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Warren is the nation’s 20th-ranked point guard by Scout.com. He is also named the No. 7 player in the state of Florida by Vince Murray of The Florida Focus scouting service.
               
Warren is a two-time Metro Conference Player of the Year for coach Anthony Long at Dr. Phillips High School. As a junior, he was the lone underclassman to garner All-State honors, as he posted 21.0 points, 6.4 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game. Graham also shot 40 percent in 3-pointers and 88 percent in free throws, and is on pace to set new school records in points, assists and steals.

“Chris Warren brings a much-needed new dimension to our team -- ball speed,” Kennedy said. “He is a strong athlete who can create scoring opportunities off the bounce for himself and his teammates.  With range to 22 feet, Chris’ ability to make shots separates him from your typical pass-first’ point guards. We have no one on our team like Chris Warren.”
               
A 6-foot-9, 240-pound forward from Clearwater, Fla., Cantinol is also listed among the state’s top-20 players by The Florida Focus, and was an All-Tournament selection at the Disney Super Showcase. Playing for coach Dave Bintz at Calvary Christian High School, Cantinol tallied 16 points, 12 boards and 3.5 blocks in receiving All-Conference accolades as a junior a year ago.

“We love Kevin’s upside,” said Kennedy. “Having only played organized basketball for a short time (three years), he has barely scratched the surface of his potential.  At 6-9, 240 pounds with a 7-3 wingspan, he gives us a true presence at the basket. Kevin is a very active athlete who is becoming more comfortable with his ability to impact the game on both ends of the floor.”

Hailing from the Caribbean island of Martinique, Cantinol moved to Clearwater after his sophomore season. He is the second internationally-born signee in Kennedy’s brief Ole Miss tenure, joining University of Florida transfer David Huertas, who is native to Puerto Rico and inked with the Rebels in July.

Sitting out this season by NCAA transfer rules, Huertas will be the fourth new member of the Rebel lineup in 2007-08. He played in 35 games as a freshman for the national champion Gators in 2005-06, and over the summer, won a gold medal competing with the Puerto Rican national team. The 6-foot-5, 195-pound guard will have three years of eligibility remaining, beginning next season.
 


 

 

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