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Wait Til’ Next Year: Ole Miss Men’s Basketball

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Kermit Davis’ squad could be a lot better than the one that made the the NCAA Tournament a year ago.

Oklahoma v Mississippi Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

PRIMER: this summer, I’m writing articles about how Ole Miss programs could potentially be better next season. This is, very specifically, putting on rose-colored glasses, something that is a little bit difficult for me at the moment given the state of things. There may or may not be bourbon involved in helping me get through these posts, but I do think it’s nice to looks for the hope in every program. So I beat on, boat against the current, born back ceaselessly by the WAOM.

Key Departures

Terence Davis, PG/SG/SF

Davis had a fantastic senior year, and his graduation probably isn’t being talked about enough. Furthermore, his NBA presence will help the program immensely moving forward in terms of recruiting and staying power in the Association.

Key Returnees

Breein Tyree, PG/SG

Devontae Shuler, PG/SG

While Terence Davis is now in the NBA and Breein Tyree has earned All-SEC accolades, Devontae Shuler probably deserves more credit than he’s getting. His on-ball defense is magnificent, and he’s pretty good at creating on offense, especially in the pick and roll. I’m not sure there’s a more important player on the roster.

Last season, Shuler connected on 40 percent of his threes as well, en route to just over 10 points per game. On top of that, his four rebounds per game were an exceptional addition for a point guard. Shuler is an elite defender who is fine at everything else. Kermit Davis needs to hope he can convince Devontae from declaring early for pro basketball.

Who are the other names to know in 2019-2020?

There’s plenty of time between now and the season, but the consensus is — if the first game were played tomorrow — Rodriguez would be the starting three. That’s a bit surprising, given his usage relative to KJ Buffen and Blake Hinson last season. Rodriguez was an afterthought who was thought to be in danger of losing his roster spot. Now Davis is raving about him in every interview. I’ve been a champion of his defense since first watching him play, but last year, he was an offensive liability.

If he’s improved upon that, it certainly makes sense he would be a major player on the court. With him and Shuler combining on perimeter defense, there could be some really fun games forcing teams to penetrate the lane a lot more than they did last season.

Around the midway point last season, Hinson and Buffen appeared poised for a future on All-SEC teams. Both contributed a great deal last season, but as the year wore on, they became less and less impactful, ultimately falling off a cliff in time for postseason basketball. They’re certainly talented, and rumor has it they’re the hardest workers on the team.

Buffen was the likely starter at the three next year, and Rodriguez appears to have swooped in and challenged for that. He’ll have to continue fighting in order to be the do-it-all-other-than-shoot-threes player we saw early last season.

Key signees

Khadim Sy, C/F

Austin Crowley, SG/SF

Sammy Hunter, PF

Shon Robinson, PF

I’m not going to rehash Bruce Stevens and Dominik Olejniczak again here. Just... they weren’t well-rounded players. Khadim Sy has to be a dynamic center immediately. He can’t be a guy who’s pretty good but has several glaring and exploitable flaws. If he’s not great offensively, that’s probably no big deal, but defense...defense is another story.

Sy is known as a presence down low who is a rim protector. That’s something the team didn’t have last season, and guards having to collapse for help defense led to a horrific opponent three-pointer percentage (somewhere over 38 percent). It was particularly frustrating because Shuler, Buffen, and at time Davis flashed excellent defense only to have everything destroyed when the ball finally got into the lane. If Sy takes that away, he’ll have done his job.

Crowley was the final commitment of the class, backing out of his Vanderbilt LOI after Bryce Drew was fired (don’t let the door hit ya’, bitcc). Crowley was a top 100 recruit, but there was some level of concern that it might take time for him to adjust physically. That hasn’t been the case, at least based around what the coaches and players have said. It seems like he’s likely to be one of the first guards off the bench, and last year’s season showed Ole Miss fans just how important it was to have go-to guys on the bench.

Without much in the way of depth at guard (with D.C. Davis typically being the only guard outside of the big three to play), the team just wore down late in the year. Crowley, and others, could remedy that and set things up for a strong run through SEC play next year.

The 6’10 forward from Eduprize in Arizona reclassified Wednesday evening and he is certainly going to factor in to the 2019-2020 rotation in the front court. If things don’t go well in the early goings of camp, Kermit and staff might agree to redshirt him in order to get his body right and to prepare to be a huge piece of this team in 2020-2021. But, he is as skilled as any signee that has come to Oxford in recent years and could force their hand to give him some minutes this season.

The former 2020 commit turned 2019 enrollee averaged 22 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks, four assists, and three steals per game last season, leading Eduprize to a 26-2 record and the Division 2 State Championship.