Senior shooting guard Stefan Moody has channeled all of his energy into preparing for what will be his final season at the University of Mississippi, and after an offseason of strenuous physical rehabilitation his intention is to help the Rebels get back to college basketball’s biggest tournament.
Recovering from injury
After last season’s 76-57 season-ending loss to Xavier in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Moody suffered a leg injury that required surgery and kept him off the court for several months. Last June, Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy announced, “Stef suffered a tibial stress that our medical staff discovered and repaired as soon as it was diagnosed.”
During the summer, Kennedy told reporters he was impressed with Moody’s progression after his surgery, calling his star-studded combo guard a “physical freak of nature.” Of Moody’s return, his head coach said: “He’s going to bounce back at record pace, because, No. 1, he’s determined, and his body just heals at an unusual rate. He’s going to be fine.”
Kennedy was absolutely correct about Moody, because the senior guard returned just in time for fall camp, even posting vine videos of himself shooting deep 3-pointers, some from half-court range, inside the Tuohy Basketball Center.
Return to the hardwood
With all that behind him now, Moody is eager for his return to the hardwood floor. His left leg will not be a distraction for a Rebels team that will look to him for pivotal knock-down jump shots and key victories.
Moody considers himself a “see-me-do-it” type of leader, who has been focusing on his leadership skills as well as his return to the game.
I make sure that I play at a certain level, so when I say something to another person, they can’t say nothing to me because I’m going hard too.
“I have been working on the vocal side of the leadership,” added Moody, who is the leading returning scorer (16.6 ppg) in the Southeastern Conference. With it’s star guard at full-strength, Ole Miss will have at least one primary scorer on offense, but what about everyone else?
Who will join Moody to create a Rebels’ 1-2 or 1-2-3 scoring punch?
Moody feels great about this year’s team, despite all of the attention centered around him, and he likes what he has seen from some of the newcomers.
“Tomasz Gielo is the most athletic guy we have, I think,” Moody said about the Liberty University post-graduate transfer, who was a 40-percent 3-point shooter for the Flames. “Sam Finley and Rasheed Brooks have really made great contributions at practice,” he added.
Moody also discussed another Ole Miss newcomer: “J.T. Escobar is really our shooter; he’s one of our younger guys. He needs a lot of work right now, but he’s been hardworking as well.”
Moody knows he will be relied on for words of wisdom and encouragement, since players such as Finley, Gielo, Brooks, Escobar, Terence Smith, and Donte Fitzpatrick haven’t played a full season against the high-level, competitive teams in the SEC. Luckily for the newcomers, Moody knows what it takes to win
Moody and the Rebels reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season, and the 5-foot-11-inch guard was a key part of Ole Miss’ 20-win season. He scored a team-high 26 points in Ole Miss’ thrilling NCAA first-round, comeback win over BYU.
Moody moves into leadership role
It is clear Moody knows what it takes to win and is ready to assume a leadership role.
The fact that there was Jarvis, there was Snoop, there were older heads so the leadership role for me was not as heavy,” said the preseason All-SEC First Team member. Now since I’m the oldest player on this team and kind of the face, I have to make sure that I hold myself accountable and hold everyone else accountable as well.
Feature image credit: Bentley Breland, The Rebel Walk