Andy Kennedy not only signed a contract extension yesterday, but he also received signatures from two higher profile junior college players expected to join the Ole Miss Rebel basketball team this fall. Both players are athletes who we could expect to see significant playing time from in the 2012-13 season.
First, forward Jason Carter, a 6'8", 220lb forward out of Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Florida, first signed with Alabama out of high school as a four-star forward prospect. Transferring out likely due to a lack in playing time (he averaged about 6 minutes a game as a freshman at Alabama), he'll now be back in the Southeastern Conference playing, twice a year, against his old coach and teammates.
He only averaged 11 points and five rebounds per game in junior college, so I haven't the slightest guess as to what role he'll play on this team next year, or if that role will be of any real significance, but I do know that he's athletic enough to do this:
So there's that.
The other signee's got a bit of a more interesting story.
A few years ago, shooting guard Marshall Henderson was a moderately recruited three star prospect out of Hurst, Texas (teen angst-y photo warning). He signed with Utah where, as a freshman, he started 30 of 31 games, averaging 11.8 points per game and hitting 33.4% from beyond the arc. He was considered one of the then-Mountain West Conference's rising young basketball stars.
On top of that, though, he earned a reputation as one of the conference's villains. In one short year, Henderson became notorious for running his mouth on the court, self-congratulatory fist bumps and chest thumps after every made basket, and fighting.
Well, sorta. BYU fans are likely to call it "fighting", and are likely to describe Henderson as some sort of mordacious monster. Utah fans are wont to suggest that Henderson's just gritty and unafraid to stick up for himself. We Ole Miss fans, though, well let's just take a look and judge for ourselves:
Check out the 1:40 mark. That right there is the incident that earned him a one game suspension in the 2009-10 season. He's certainly a scrappy guy, who probably isn't afraid to engage in fisticuffs if necessary, but if you're asking me, I'm telling you that the BYU guy flopped like a fresh caught flounder on that "punch."
After a year of shit talking and fighting his way around Utah, Henderson transferred to return to the Lone Star State and play for Texas Tech where he, per NCAA rules, didn't play. Then something - maybe a girl, maybe the cosmopolitan hustle and bustle of Lubbock, maybe sympathies for Mike Leach - caused him to just up and leave Texas Tech for South Plains Junior College.
At South Plains, Henderson was a standout on a team which would go undefeated (yes, undefeated... in basketball) and win the Junior College National Championship. He was South Plains' leading scorer with 19.6 points per game and shot at 41% from three. He was named a junior college all-American and the national junior college player of the year this past winter after his team's 36-0 run and national title.
Henderson brings something that the Rebels needed desperately this year: a consistent long-range scoring threat. While I believe we have cause to be excited over his arrival, we should temper that with the understanding that Ole Miss' is this young man's fourth school in four years. In that sense, he reminds me a bit of Jelan Kendrick and his difficulties staying committed to one team or program.
Jones, on the other hand, brings athleticism and depth to a Rebel front court which should be one of the SEC's more talented come this next basketball season.