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Former Ole Miss basketball legend Ansu Sesay returns to finish degree, join staff

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The 1998 SEC Player of the Year and Consensus All-American is back in Oxford.

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It’s been over 20 years since Ansu Sesay roamed the hardwood in the red and blue. But, after a long and successful basketball career in the NBA and overseas, No. 5 is returning to Oxford.

Ole Miss Spirit’s Ben Garrett first tweeted the news Thursday evening that Sesay would be returning to campus to wrap up the graduation requirements to complete his degree AND to join Kermit Davis’ staff as a “student assistant”. Shortly after, Ansu confirmed the news himself on Twitter in a reply to Garrett.

This is a classy move by Coach Davis and a smart one, too. Not only is this a great sign of things to come in the future with bringing back former players to not only be around the program, but to help in any way they can. Sesay was the Southeastern Conference’s Player of the Year in 1998 and the 30th overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft. It certainly does not hurt to have that kind of pedigree on your staff.

With guys like Breein Tyree preparing themselves for the next level, Sesay should play an integral part of getting him ready mentally and physically since he has been there and done that. He also has extensive knowledge of playing overseas which, all jokes aside, is quite the lucrative opportunity for young basketball players fresh out of college.

This is great for the program, Sesay, and for those who remember just how special Ansu was as a Rebel. He is unfairly remembered for being a part of the 1997-1998 Ole Miss team that went 22-6, made the NCAA Tournament, then lost to Valparaiso on an improbable last-second shot by unemployed bum Bryce Drew.

He was much more than that. In his last two years, Ole Miss went 42-16 and 23-9 in conference on the backs of the consensus All-American who averaged 16.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game while shooting 46 percent from the field and playing lights out defense. He was a two-time All-SEC performer and was an easy choice for the 1997 SEC All-Tournament team.

After college, he was chosen by the Dallas Mavericks but unfortunately suffered an ACL injury after the NBA’s lockout ended and he spent the following season on the bench. Sesay played in the CBA and then had a few stints with the Seattle SuperSonics and the Golden State Warriors before ultimately going overseas and playing for five years before wrapping up his career.

In 1997, Sesay was a part of the USA men’s basketball team that went undefeated at the World University Games in Italy, sweeping through their slate going 6-0 on their way to a gold medal win over Canada. In its first game, the United States dominated South Africa, 110-32, as the former Rebel led the way with 19 points. In those six games, he shot over 50 percent from the field, tallied 11 steals, and averaged 7.5 points per game.

Upon his return to his home state of Texas, Sesay started his own basketball academy in Houston with a developmental program for kids of all ages from beginners to the elite players at the high school level.

I would venture to say I join EVERYONE in welcoming Ansu back to Oxford and look forward to the impact he can have on this group of young men in the 2019-2020 season.