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Is Matthew Murrell really a top 20 wing?

According to one national media outlet he is.

Syndication: Tuscaloosa News Gary Cosby Jr. / USA TODAY NETWORK

In a recent article, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic named Matthew Murrell the 16th best wing in the country. It may be easy for Ole Miss fans to forget, given that they saw the team flounder around last season in pitiful fashion, but Murrell was actually pretty good last year.

When Ole Miss signed Murrell, a top 40 player out of IMG Academy, it was a big deal. Murrell was, and still is, the highest rated player the Rebels had ever signed according to 247 Sports.

As a freshman, the 6’4” wing took a back seat to Devontae Shuler, Jarkel Joiner, Luis Rodriguez, and KJ Buffen. Murrell started just four games but did play in 28. He averaged just 4.2 points per game, shooting 32% from the field. Murrell showed flashes at times, particularly in a game against UT-Martin when he went 5/7 for 13 points. He never had much opportunity for big minutes though, and didn’t find a way to make an impact for a team that narrowly missed the NCAA tournament.

A year later, he was much more impactful, averaging 12.1 points per game on 42.7% shooting. He was the Rebels’ best three point shooter as well, going 38.6% from behind the arc.

Vacenie says Murrell may be the “most underrated player entering college basketball this season.” As Vecenie notes, last season Murrell averaged 15.5 points per game in SEC play, including an astounding 42% from three-point range.

Murrell was obviously instrumental in the team’s limited success last season. He scored 25 points on a healthy clip against #7 Kentucky. He dominated Florida, goign 8 of 12 for 20 points. But his game against Mississippi State was the finest of his young career.

Murrell made ten of his eleven attempts against the Bulldogs, going for 31 points on five three-pointers and a perfect six shots from the line. He chipped in two assists, two steals, and four rebounds in the Rebels’ unexpected ten point win, but even without those sheet-filling stats, he would have been the best player on the floor that night.

For the Rebels to make the NCAA tournament this season, something that likely needs to happen for Kermit Davis to keep his job, Murrell will need to be a consistent scorer who is capable of huge games when the team needs him. He’s the only player who’s a real threat from distance, something pivotal to the modern game of basketball. While there are other offensive threats, namely Daeshun Ruffin and a big or two, no one has the shooting range Murrell has displayed.

I’d look for the Rebels to drive to the basket and kick it out to Murrell as much as they can this season. He’s really their only hope.

Kermit Davis told reporters a week ago that he wouldn’t trade his back court with anyone in the country. While that’s absolutely ridiculous, he’s not too far off. Murrell is pretty special, and Ruffin may be too.