Ole Miss was expected to open up the 2020-2021 basketball season with the Justin Reed Classic tournament November 25-27. Due to Covid-19 issues within the Ole Miss program, the tournament was cancelled.
The Rebels now look to opening up its season against Jackson State on December 10. Southeastern Conference play begins on Dec. 29, but prior to this, Ole Miss will face schools that might not be at the top of your radar.
The Tigers finished the 2019-2020 season 15-17, and struggled on the road with only six wins. They averaged 67.3 points per game and are returning a few key players who played prominent roles last season. Jayveous McKinnis, a junior from Brandon, Miss., averaged 30 minutes a game and is likely to start again for the Wavee Daves.
The Wilmington Seahawks had a tough year last year. They finished the season 10-22, and only won five conference games. After finishing in last place, head coach C.B. McGrath was fired after three seasons. Rob Burke was brought in as interim head coach, and Takayo Siddle was later named the official head coach.
Central Arkansas is another team that struggled last year with 10-21 record. They were able to win 9 conference games in the Southland conference, before losing its head coach. Russ Pennell resigned after six seasons on January 7. Anthony Boone was named the new head coach in March. Boone was a former player at Ole Miss, as well as a graduate assistant. He will return to his alma mater on December 14.
Middle Tennessee was simply not good last year. They only were able to win eight games, and tragically four of them in conference games. They finished in last place, right below Southern Miss. Despite being worse, three of those eight wins came from beating Southern Miss in all three meetings. Middle Tennessee was not alone in its terrible seasons, but unlike other teams that didn't have great seasons, the Blue Raiders kept its head coach.
The Dayton Flyers had a fantastic season in the Atlantic 10 conference and finished with an overall record of 29-2. Looking only at records from the past season, this should be the biggest preseason matchup for the Rebels. Last season, Obi Toppin was named All-American, and received a large amount of college player awards including Naismith College Player of the year and the John R. Wooden award. Toppin was drafted in 2020, but allowed for a top-25 recruiting class.
UT Martin finished last season 9-20. While they weren’t in last place, they had a problem competing in the Ohio Valley Conference. Looking ahead to this year, they are hoping to win a few more conference games, though its unlikely this should be a challenging match for the Rebels.
The Wichita State Shockers finished last year with 23 wins. At the time, the coach was Michael “Gregg” Marshall. Leading up to this year, the head coach resigned in November 2020 after 13 seasons. An internal investigation detailed reports of former players accusing him of racial, physical, and verbal abuse. Isaac Brown was named the interim head coach following the resignation until a new coach can be officially named.
So there you have it - there’s a little intrigue in what Dayton and Wichita State bring to the schedule, but otherwise, fans should hope to see some lopsided non-conference games to get this season kicked off.