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Get to know the new names on Ole Miss’ 2018 basketball roster

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Kermit Davis has loaded his first roster with high school and JUCO talent.

NCAA Basketball: Western Kentucky at Middle Tennessee State
When the ‘croots are rolling in.
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Compared to the other two major men’s sports, college basketball has lent itself to a much more fluid roster exchange. There’s a lot of turnover in all of college sports, but particularly in basketball, when three or four transfers could completely decimate or rebuild a team.

New Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis is making this team his own quickly, bringing seven new players to Oxford while six headed for greener pastures or graduated. Davis overhauled half of the roster in a matter of months, so let’s look and see what he has to work with for the 2018-2019 season and beyond.

Newcomers that will make an impact immediately this season

Blake Hinson appears to be far and away the newcomer that will have the biggest impact on this team this season. The 6’7, 230-pound guard/forward out of Florida was the No. 102 ranked player in the country coming out of high school and averaged nearly 30 points per game during his junior season in 7A ball in talent-rich Florida. Coach Kerm has already announced him as a starter at the four.

Newcomers that will play immediately

Brian Halums is a JUCO transfer from Itawamba Community College (Miss.) and hails from Hollandale, Miss. at Simmons High School. The 21-year-old is a 6’5, 188-pound guard who has shown the ability to score double digits at the JC level and is now transitioning to the SEC. He is likely to get some playing time as a backup to guards Terence Davis, Breein Tyree and Devontae Shuler and should offer a more steady hand right off the bat.

Zach Naylor also falls into the JUCO category, providing value as a backup to Bruce Stevens and Dominik Olejniczak. Naylor stands at 6’8 and 220 pounds at forward and brings the ability to shoot and snatch rebounds. He dang near averaged a double-double in JUCO, which makes him immediately ready to step in when needed.

K.J. Buffen comes to Oxford from Gainesville, Ga. where he was the No. 7 overall high school recruit in the state last year. The 6’7, 220-pound freshman forward was first team all-state as a senior, racking up nearly 25 points and 10 rebounds per game. Buffen will factor into the line-up and could push for minutes as the season progresses.

Newcomers who won’t play immediately

Franco Miller is a freshman Bahamanian who will one day take the reigns at point guard. Unfortunately, his knee didn’t make it through customs. He had to have surgery before this season and won’t be back in action until sometime in December.

Luis Rodriguez got a lot of praise from the coaching staff entering fall practice, but a knee injury has him sidelined for about four to six weeks. A top-150 player out of Connecticut, the 6’6 freshman forward will probably get minutes later in the year if he can get his health right.

Carlos Curry is 6’11 but the big man from a small school in Georgia seems like a project. He could potentially be one of the better defenders on the team, as he averaged five blocks per game in his senior year of high school. When I watch tape of Curry, he was clearly the largest guy on the court but I think he’ll have a steep learning curve to get meaningful minutes for Ole Miss this season.

Who’s gone?

Markel Crawford was cut by the Grizzlies and is expected to land on their G-League roster. His one year in Oxford went by far too quickly, and I feel like we never really got the chance to see everything he could do.

Deandre Burnett has graduated, taking with him a wealth of experience at the guard spot. He provided a phenomenal free throw percentage every year and could drive the basket to generate fouls when games were tight.

Marcanvis Hymon, who’s also out of eligibility, was never a guy you could count on to score double digits or bring down a ton of rebounds, but he was at least willing to be the guy ready to throw blows if it came to it. Pretty sure he fouled out of every game he played in, and hey, you need to have a guy that will do that with no conscience.

Karlis Silins was often injured and never really saw meaningful minutes. A big who wanted to shoot from outside and be a hustle defender, he wasn’t capable at this level. Silins is now at Florida Atlantic, where he will probably be a double-digit scorer.

Iyla Tyrtyshnik may or may not be the reason for some heartburn for me. It never made sense to me that Andy Kennedy would bring in guards from thousands of miles away rather than a high school player closer to home. Iyla played very little and was by all accounts a wasted scholarship for a season. I couldn’t find him on a roster anywhere.

Justas Furmanavicius was a bull in a China shop, always going top speed and sometimes even making a nice play. He had the build to play the post, but was another case of a player who wanted to shoot more from the outside. Justas gave 100 percent and you can’t fault him for his abilities. His eligibility ran out after last season as well.