At this point in the season, Ole Miss finds itself at 9-13 overall and 1-8 in the conference. It is tied for 12th in the SEC standings with LSU (who literally lost all 11 players on the team to the transfer portal) and South Carolina. Fun note: when I search South Carolina men’s basketball the system seems to want to correct it to women’s basketball. I’m sure South Carolina fans would like to do the same.
Anyway, the Rebels are in rough shape, yet Kermit Davis is still the coach. Davis has a team full of players who were highly regarded out of high school, yet he loses to the likes of North Alabama in year five. It’s.... frustrating.
So ho did Ole Miss get here? Was it NCAA sanctions or terrible recruiting? No. Is this year a one-off when we didn’t know what our shortcomings would be and didn’t have time to fix them in the portal? No.
It’s Kermit Davis.
Recruiting has actually been great
Seriously, it has. Every coach in Ole Miss basketball history would kill to sign players of this caliber.
The top two Ole Miss basketball signees in the modern era, according to 247sports.com, are Matthew Murrell and Daeshun Ruffin. Also in the top ten are Malique Ewin (7) and Amaree Abram (9). TJ Caldwell comes in at #18 to finish off the current players who are among the top twenty. Had Jaemyn Brakefield not originally signed with Duke, he would have supplanted Ruffin as the second highest rated player to ever sign with the Rebels.
The Rebels have to more top 100 players on the way in center Rashaud Marshall (86) and point guard Josh Hubbard (90). Both will rank in the top ten in Ole Miss history if they make it to campus.
But the problem is what happens when they get to campus
Right out of the gate, Ole Miss made the NCAA tournament in Davis’ first year on the backs of Breein Tyree, Terence Davis, Devontae Shuler, and promising freshmen Blake Hinson and KJ Buffen. The immediate success made people like me, who lambasted the hire, look like fools.
Then other years happened.
The next season, Ole Miss limped to a 15-17 mark before having its season ended due to a global pandemic. A year later, the Rebels went 16-11 before being bounced in the first round of the NIT. Last season, Ole Miss went 13-19 (4-14), and yet here we are, staring in the face of a season which may finish with just one conference win.
Players are suddenly productive when they leave
Quick: name an Ole Miss player who has improved since being signed by Kermit Davis. Tough to find any who get markedly better from one year to the next at Ole Miss, right?
The transfer portal makes it easy to quickly enter a new situation and try to turn things around. Surely that hasn’t worked for these unproductive guys Kermit Davis has brought in though, right? They’re probably just bad basketball players, right?
Let’s look at the players who left Ole Miss just last season. Jarkel Joiner is averaging 16.7 points per game for an NC State team that’s 8-4 in ACC play with wins over the likes of Duke and Miami. Luis Rodriguez is putting up 12 points per game for a 15-7 UNLV team that beat a ranked New Mexico. Austin Crowley, who couldn’t buy a bucket in Oxford, is averaging 17.8 points per game for Southern Miss while converting on 49.8% of his attempts. Southern Miss is 20-4.
But they’re not all incredible. Sammy Hunter, who Ole Miss coaches thought to be a dominant force when they signed him, is 6’9” and converting on 38% of his shot attempts at Akron. End of the benchers Grant Slatten and Eric Van Der Heijden aren’t playing much at Tennessee Tech and UNC Wilmington either.
Don’t even get me started on players who left previously like Davis’ first class of Blake Hinson (15.8 ppg for Pitt, who is third in the ACC) and KJ Buffen (averaging 10 and 7 for Andy Kennedy’s UAB).
So the problem is probably Kermit
We can end this charade any day now. Why are we continuing to embarrass ourselves by letting him coach out the year? Obviously it’s not working. Please, end this, Keith.