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Ole Miss basketball completes staff with hire of Arizona State’s Levi Watkins

Kermit Davis has all hands on deck now.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Four-Syracuse vs. Arizona State Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Kermit Davis has been busy recruiting after he hired his two former assistants from Middle Tennessee. Now, in between recruiting trips, in-home visits, and hosting official visitors, he has managed to get away for a bit in order to hire a third and final assistant.

Ole Miss has now officially hired Levi Watkins from Arizona State of the Pac-12 Conference, as first reported by CBS’ Jon Rothstein last week. Now, it’s officially official.

The newest member of the Rebels’ staff was a part of a 20-10 Sun Devils staff that made it to the NCAA Tournament and lost in the first round to a Syracuse team that made it to the Sweet Sixteen. He joined the Sun Devil staff after head coach Bobby Hurley chose to leave the University at Buffalo, where the Bulls went 42-20 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history in 2015.

During the past three seasons in Tempe, Levi’s recruiting has been on par with some of the best programs around.

  • 2016 - 17th (three 4-stars, all top 100 players)
  • 2017 - 23rd (two 4-stars, two top 100 players)
  • 2018 - 20th (three 4-stars, all top 120 players)
  • 2019 - 13th (one 4-star, top 120 player)

One of his first signees, Romello White, had a nice freshman season in Arizona, scoring 10.5 points per game and snagging 7.1 rebounds per game. Another one of his signees, Remy Martin, averaged 9.6 points per game and shot 37% from deep. A junior college big man from Iowa Western, De’Quon Lake pitched in 7.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game as well.

Before he was recruiting top 25 classes in the desert, he wore many hats during his time at Buffalo, he was in charge of recruiting, working as recruiting coordinator, development, scouting and game preparation, academics, and community relations. His coaching efforts also provided the Bulls their first MAC Championship in addition to winning the MAC regular season title. Buffalo also tied the program’s highest win total (23) and finished with a program-best RPI of 29 that year.

During his first year coaching in the Empire State, he was a part of a staff that won an outright MAC East title, led the conference in both scoring margin and assists and ranked 2nd in scoring. Watkins worked primarily with the post players and in both seasons a post player won the MAC Player of the Year honors.

Watkins primarily worked with the post players while at Buffalo and his protégé, Justin Moss, had a fantastic 2014-2015 campaign, winning the MAC Player of the Year award, and led the conference in scoring and rebounding. His other post-man, Javon McCrea, became Buffalo’s all-time leading scorer and led the MAC in both scoring and rebounding during the 2013-14 season.

Before joining the coaching ranks, Watkins played at N.C. State from 2002-2005. He was a part of their No. 1 recruiting class in 2001 that included 2004 ACC Player of the Year and 1st round pick in 2005 Julius Hodge and NBA veteran Josh Powell.

He led the Wolfpack to four consecutive NCAA tournaments, making them one of 21 teams in the country to do so at the time, including a Sweet Sixteen run in his final season in Raleigh. He has been to a combined eight NCAA Tournaments over the course of his playing and coaching careers.

Before his time as a member of the Wolfpack, he played his prep ball at the prestigious Montrose Christian High School in Rockville, Maryland, Watkins was a 2001 Parade All-American and was tabbed as the Gatorade and USA Today Maryland State Player of the Year.