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Here’s our projected starting five for Ole Miss basketball next season

Too early for this? Nah, it’s sketchy right now.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-South Carolina vs Mississippi Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Hoo boy, if an opening round NIT loss to Louisiana Tech is any evidence of what Ole Miss will be working with next season, Rebels fans may need to ready themselves for a season of growing pains in 2021-2022.

The Rebels were only playing with eight scholarship players, so it’s not an indictment of those players’ abilities or talents necessarily. It’s that the most consistent player out of that bunch, Romello White, will depart and currently there are only three recruits who have signed on for next season.

Additionally, forward Antavion Collum announced his intentions to enter the transfer portal following KJ Buffen in the process. Buffen has since announced he will join former Rebels head coach Andy Kennedy at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

So where does the roster stand on scholarship players in the fall as it stands right now?

Luis Rodriguez

Austin Crowley

Jarkel Joiner

Matthew Murrell

Robert Allen

Sammy Hunter

Daeshun Ruffin

James White

Grant Slatten

With only nine players on scholarship, it’s plain to see recruiting some transfers and high school seniors will be a focus for this coaching staff. A quick look at the depth chart also shows the Rebels are down to two scholarship forwards on this list as well, neither of which has played significant minutes in their time in Oxford.

Things are certainly going to change, and the Cup will continue to update signings along the way. However, as the roster sits right now, newcomers will be potentially heavily relied on next season to come in and make an immediate impact for success.

Here’s how I would see a possible starting five for next season based on the current situation.

PG: Daeshun Ruffin

SG: Jarkel Joiner

G/F: Luis Rodriguez

F: Robert Allen

F: Sammy Hunter

Now it is a huge risk to put a freshman at point guard and expect great things, but Ruffin is also one of the higher ranked recruits Kermit Davis has landed in his time at Ole Miss. Maybe it’s best to start Crowley and bring Ruffin along slowly as the season progresses, but I have not seen where the consistency is there for ball handling to let that project play out for very long.

Needless to say, this coaching staff has to know what they are recruiting with now — playing time is available for transfers who want to come in, play in the SEC, and have a chance to immediately start (Jaemyn Brakefield, please come to Ole Miss). How this staff closes in this recruiting cycle could very well determine not only the program’s progress or lack thereof next season.