Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series. Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days. This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days. We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
This year the SEC is getting rid of its old format of separating the conference’s basketball teams into two six-team divisions. It makes a ton of sense since the East has been much stronger than the West the past several year. Point in case: Ole Miss is already the third team from the former SEC West to make an appearance in my pre-season rankings and I am not even out of the mid-nineties.
OLE MISS REBELS
Last Season: T-9th, 7-9 in SEC, 20-14 overall
Predicted SEC Finish: 9th
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Reginald Buckner (Jr)/Demarco Cox (So)
PF: Terrance Henry (Sr)/Steadman Short (Sr)/Aaron Jones (Fr)
G/F: Nick Williams (Jr)/Jelan Kendrick (Fr)/Jamal Jones (Fr)
SG: Ladarius White (Fr)/Maurice Aniefiok (Fr)/Dale Hughes (Jr)
PG: Dundrecous Nelson (So)/Jarvis Summers (Fr)
Gone: PG-Chris Warren, SG-Zach Graham, SG-Trevor Gaskins (Louisiana Tech), PG-Will Bogan (transfer-Valparaiso), PF-Isaiah Massey (transfer-Louisiana Tech), SG-Donald Williams (transfer)
Last season the backcourt of Chris Warren and Zach Graham sparked an Ole Miss team that made a trip to the NIT. With that duo moving on in their basketball careers as well as the transfer of key reserve Trevor Gaskins, the Rebels have some major holes to fill at guard.
Dundrecous Nelson will play a vital role in that makeover. He came on strong as a freshman, starting the final seven games of the season. Nelson ultimately took the starting position from Nick Williams who is the only other returning guard on the roster and likely to return to the starting line-up.
Memphis transfer Jelan Kendrick becomes eligible after the first semester and should immediately end up in the starting line-up. Until he is able to suit up for the Rebels, freshmen wings Ladarius White and Maurice Aniefiok figure to step in right away and log heavy minutes. Fellow newcomers Jamal Jones and Florida A&M transfer Dale Hughes will also try to work into the rotation at off guard while Jarvis Summers will have to acclimate himself at the team’s only back-up at the point.
The frontcourt features several familiar faces. Terrence Henry is the team’s top returning player and a legit 2012 NBA prospect due to his inside/outside game. He will be asked to play a bigger role this season. Reginald Buckner returns in the middle and is already second in school history in blocked shots despite only being a junior. Demarco Cox is a big body who provide some muscle off the bench while Steadman Short adds even more depth up-front. Freshman Aaron Jones will likely be the odd man out in the rotation.
Entering his sixth year at Ole Miss, Andy Kennedy’s seat is starting to heat up since the Rebels have not been to the NCAA Tournament in a decade. This year’s team is a long shot to break that skid and I would not be surprised if Mississippi is looking for a new head coach at the end of the season.
Player to Watch: Jelan Kendrick, G/F
The former Memphis commit will be the first ever McDonald’s All-American to don a Rebel jersey. He has somewhat of a troubled past as he played for several different high school and AAU teams during his teens, stemming from what he admitted to his former Tiger teammates was due to anger issues. Kendrick took a leave of absence last year at Memphis before ultimately choosing to transfer to Ole Miss. The skill level is obviously there. The question is whether Kendrick can control his emotions and make the most of his new opportunity. If so, he will be a great get for Kennedy and provide a huge boost for the Rebels.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/18-21 vs. Marquette, Virginia, TCU, Drexel, Drake, Winthrop, or Norfolk State (Paradise Jam)
12/1 at DePaul (Big East/SEC Challenge)
12/4 at Penn State
12/21 at Dayton
OTHER 111 IN 111’S
#96 Nebraka Cornhuskers
#97 Oklahoma Sooners
#98 South Florida Bulls
#99 LSU Tigers
#100 Colorado Buffaloes
#101 DePaul Blue Demons
#102 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#103 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#104 Seton Hall Pirates
#105 Providence Friars
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 South Carolina Gamecocks
#108 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#109 Penn State Nittany Lions
#110 Boston College Eagles
#111 Utah Utes
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a fomer contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.
You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.