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Ole Miss basketball is big game hunting on the recruiting trail now

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Kermit Davis is putting his name in the hat with the big guns.

Josh McCoy-Ole Miss Athletics

Since being hired, Kermit Davis and his two-man staff of Win Case and Ronnie Hamilton have been incredibly busy. And that’s putting it lightly. The three men have been traveling like crazy since their introductory press conference at The Pavilion, submitting offers to 2018, 2019, 2020, and even 2021 targets.

But the offers have been quite peculiar. Kermit and his two assistants are going after some much bigger targets than Ole Miss is used to. I mean these are Johnny O’Bryant, Malik Newman territory. The Rebels’ newest head coach seems adamant about getting the Ole Miss program name out there to kids and to be relentless in his pursuit to rebuild the Rebel program with in-person offers, evaluations, and visits.

But, is this a waste of time or is it warranted? Can it be both? Absolutely. But, it is certainly refreshing to see this so closely to his introduction as the new head man. Now, don’t get me wrong, Andy Kennedy certainly hit the trail hard and submitted his fair share of impressive offers, but the speed that Kermit is doing it is indicative of the importance he is placing on the next two classes.

Davis knows that he needs fan buy-in, alumni and administration support, and to prove to future targets that not only is he the man for the job, but he can do it year in and year out. He already proved it at Middle Tennessee, but now he is on a larger stage in a tougher conference.

With Zach Naylor reaffirming his status in the 2018 class and fellow signee Brian Halums still silent, as it stands right now, Ole Miss has four spots available for this year’s class. So without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the big-time recruits the staff has been after the last couple weeks. Some have been mentioned already, but let’s see who else is after them, what they bring to the table, and if Kermit has a real shot.

Hinson is a name to certainly keep an eye on moving forward. The match up nightmare recently entertained Davis last week for an in-person visit and will be visiting Oxford April 6th for an official visit. The Sunrise Christian Academy (what up, Saiz) prospect is a 6’7, 230-pounder who would fit nicely in Kermit’s 1-3-1 zone defense system. He would also be a welcomed addition to the Rebels’ rotation at the three because Marcanvis Hymon is leaving and Terence Davis is flirting with the NBA.

Personally, I think Ole Miss is in this. The four-star forward recently released a top five of Illinois, Missouri, Seton Hall, Washington State, and Ole Miss. He has recently reclassified to the 2018 class so his timetable has been sped up a little bit, but I would assume he will take his visits and decide. But, getting him on campus after an in-home visit should signal that whatever Kermit said resonated.

Another name that we have already mentioned is Dude Collum. Kermit Davis went in-person with him in Memphis and met with his parents and Tennessee Prep Academy coach to submit an offer and discuss with him how he thinks he would fit at Ole Miss. The 6’7, 215-pounder is a stretch two or three who can really get up and down the floor. The former teammate of Kentucky commit D.J. Jeffries and Memphis East player has found a home at TPA and has gotten the attention of several big-time programs.

Notable offers have been extended from Florida, Georgetown, Illinois, and Iowa State, but Davis is certainly hoping that he can keep the four-star close to home and be Ole Miss’ bell cow in the 2018 class. The top 160 player would be an excellent addition to the class not only because of his raw talent and skill set, but it would be a nice win for Ole Miss in Memphis.

And with Penny Hardaway now the head coach at Memphis, those wins are not going to come often.

Yet another 2018 name to watch is three-star Oak Hill Academy forward Maurice Calloo. The 6’8, 210-pound wing player remains uncommitted despite offers from Florida, Illinois, Kansas State, Mississippi State, and Providence. We all know of the recent success the Rebs were able to have in Mouth of Wilson, Va. with the signing of Devontae Shuler. Can they do it again with Calloo?

The former Huntington Prep is a talented wing who can not only beat you off the bounce and finish at the rim, but he can also step back and shoot with confidence from deep. Kermit is putting big-time emphasis on his first class and going after names like Collum and Colloo in-person so quickly is a good sign.

The first five-star that Kermit Davis has gone after as the Ole Miss head coach is Ashton Hagans. The former Georgia commit has offers from just about everyone but it appears that it is going to come down to North Carolina, Auburn, and Kentucky.

One of those is not like the other.

Know Your Meme

The 6’4, 185-pound point guard from Covington, Ga. will have his choice from the blue bloods, but Kermit’s recent success recruiting the Peach State could catch Hagans’ attention. Maybe. All three of Davis’ commits in his final class at MTSU are from Georgia and North Carolina native and assistant coach Ronnie Hamilton has had his fair share of success molding and grooming point guards.

This is the first real long shot that we have discussed so far. When you have a committable offer from a school like North Carolina, it’s tough to compete with. But, let it be known that Davis is not backing down whatsoever. And in basketball, it only takes one big-time signee to make a splash.

But, again, don’t hold your breath with Hagans.

One of the most notable offers for next year’s class is another Georgia product. The four-star shooting guard from Buford has a fantastic offer sheet including big-time schools like Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida, LSU, Memphis, Missouri, Oklahoma State, and Oregon, among others. Watson is a top 100 player who most think will end up in Atlanta to play for Josh Pastner, but it is still a long ways away before he ultimately decides.

He has recently been visited by Pastner and new Georgia head coach Tom Crean, but expect Kermit and his staff to stay vigilante in the Peach State. Watson has already eclipsed 1,000 points for his career at Buford and he will be one to keep an eye on moving forward. Long shot or not.

Looking even further down the line, Ole Miss is already pushing out offers for two years ahead. The Webb School’s Keon Johnson is already 6’5, 180 and holds an offer from Wake Forest. As a sophomore, he led The Feet in scoring with 25.6 points and 10 rebounds per game and the Bell Buckle, Tenn. native is only going to get better. And getting in the door with an offer this early on certainly doesn’t hurt.

The next 2020 target that is on Kermit’s radar is Woodward Academy’s Walker Kessler. The No. 34 overall player in the class has already been offered by Texas A&M and Vanderbilt and more are sure to follow. And Georgia and Kentucky are keeping tabs on the 6’10, 205-pounder. The four-star is the No. 4-ranked center in all of the class who averaged a double double for Woodward Academy as a sophomore.

The Fairburn, Ga. native scored 17.4 points and grabbed 10.4 rebounds per game for the War Eagles, guiding them to a 20-10 record and a second round state tournament berth. Dominik Olejniczak and Bruce Stevens will be gone upon his arrival and teh 6’11 Karlis Silins’ availability is still up in the air following his second knee surgery. Davis and Ole Miss offer some renewed energy, the SEC, and playing time immediately. Maybe Kessler is listening.

The last target we will discuss is 2021 forward Frank Anselem, another Georgia center from Atlanta. The 6’10 center from Westlake High School played sparingly as a freshman, but should his playing time increase considerably now that he is growing by the day, literally and figuratively.

Anselem has been offered by the Rebels and by SEC East upstart Tennessee. Rick Barnes has got something brewing in Knoxville and he and Kermit might be fighting over Frank before it’s all said and done.


Obviously, these offers aren’t all going to turn into commitments and signatures, but it’s encouraging that Kermit Davis and his staff, although still one man short, are vigorously working to right the proverbial ship. From 2018 possibilities, to 2019 blue-chips, to future stars, Kermit Davis is staying out on the road and working his tail off to bring Ole Miss basketball back to the greener grass.

For now, that’s all you can ask for.