The 2013 SEC Tournament Champion Ole Miss Rebels aren't exactly in a position to repeat that feat this year, and barring such an improbable outcome they're most definitely not returning to the NCAA Tournament.
That said, this team only loses the incredibly valuable and highly controversial Marshall Henderson to graduation, making it one of the more predictable programs in the Southeastern Conference for the 2014-15 season. Barring the unexpected, the team's assists leader and second-highest scorer, Jarvis Summers, returns along with the team's leading rebounders and blockers, Sebastian Saiz and Aaron Jones, so the core of this basketball team will remain largely intact for the next season.
These returners will join the 2014 recruiting class to give Andy Kennedy another team that is long and athletic - and probably struggling to stay on the bubble. Either way though, they'll be exciting and interesting, and with a little luck and a few good bounces they could have this program back to where we fans want it.
The 2014 Ole Miss recruiting class, which is probably the most Kennedy-esque class to date, is as follows:
- J.T. Escobar - 6'2", 170lb Shooting Guard - FAMU High - Tallahassee, FL: J.T. Escobar is a high volume scorer who averaged 30.6 points per game at FAMU High School. As a senior, he shot an impressive 45% from beyond the arc, and also averaged nearly five rebounds and two steals a game. Escobar has been named to the Florida Coaches Athletic Association's Class 3A All-State team for two years running. He is likely to see time off of the bench as a shooter early in his Rebel career.
- Marcanvis Hymon - 6'6", 185lb Small Forward - Whitehaven High, Memphis, TN: It's not an Ole Miss basketball class without a MId-South standout. Marcanvis Hymon is, by a fairly wide margin, the most highly recruited member of this class, reporting offers from Arkansas, Mizzou, LSU, UMass, and others. Hymon will likely play a wing type of role for this program, but will be pushed more towards the inside than Snoop White or Anthony Perez due to his exceptional rebounding abilities.
- Stephan Moody - 5'11", 185lb Point Guard - Kilgore JC, Kilgore, TX: Rebel fans are already dubbing Moody the "next Marshall Henderson" (we love anointing players "the next [DEPARTED REBEL STAR]," don't we?), as he's a shoot-first guard in the mold of Henderson and Chris Warren. As a college freshman at FAU, Moody was named the Sun Belt Freshman of the Year after averaging 15.7 points and 4.2 rebounds a game. Academic issues led to his dismissal from FAU and his transfer to Kilgore JC. At Kilgore, he started in all 31 games they played this season, averaging 17.7 points per game. He shot 47.6 percent from the floor and 34.5 percent from beyond the arc. Those percentages aren't eye-popping, but they're good enough for us. He should see time right away for the Rebs.
- Rauno Nurger - 6'9", 230lb Power Forward - Sunrise Christain, Bel Aire, KS: Having given Ole Miss Sebastian Saiz and Janari Joesaar, Sunrise Christian keeps their pipeline to Ole Miss pumping with another big man from points out yonder. Like Joesaar, Nurger is a former standout on the Estonian Youth National Team, averaging 10.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while splitting time between forward and center roles. He has the athleticism and size to get to the rim often, but how well his game translates to NCAA ball is obviously a pretty big question mark.