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Sebastian Saiz ready to embrace being No. 1 option for Rebels’ offense

Sebastian Saiz ready to embrace being No. 1 option for Rebels’ offense
Saiz in last year's SEC Tournament vs. Alabama. (Photo credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)

Saiz in last year’s SEC Tournament vs. Alabama. (Photo credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)

OXFORD, Miss. – Forward Sebastian Saiz is 100-percent after two successful surgeries on his eye to repair a partially detached retina. Now, the senior is ready to embrace his role as the first offensive option for Ole Miss.

The Ole Miss Rebels men’s basketball team kicked off fall practice last Tuesday and Saiz seemed eager to get back on the court for his final season with the program. He’s also happy about not having to wear an eye patch over his repaired eye, though he will still wear goggles as a precaution.

Head coach Andy Kennedy made it known at Tuesday’s media availability that this season’s Ole Miss team will run its offense through Saiz, who finished the 2015 season averaging 11.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. Saiz scored in double figures 17 times and topped the 20-point mark three times. He also pulled down double-digit rebounds 10 times and posted eight double-doubles.

He’s approaching his senior season with a sense of urgency that you typically see. Saiz is one of my favorite guys I have had here. His energy is always right. He’s very, very positive. He’s going to put in the work, and he’s really evolved offensively.

Coach Andy Kennedy on Sebastian Saiz

Kennedy continued on with what he expects from the 6-foot-9, 233-pound Madrid, Spain native:

He’s gotten stronger. He’s a guy I have challenged to be a double-double guy for us this year, lead the SEC in rebounding, which I think will have great value for him and our team moving forward. That’s a challenge he’s up for.

Saiz accepted Kennedy’s challenge without hesitation as he’s looking to duplicate the success he had last season before the eye injury that forced him to miss six of the Rebels’ conference games.

“That’s why I stayed at Ole Miss,” Saiz’s response when he asked about last season’s unfortunate turn of events. “Last year, before I got hurt, that gave me motivation every day to improve and to keep playing here.”

Another dimension to Saiz’ game

Saiz has been known for his low-post presence and ability to shoot 15 to 17-foot jump shots, but he’s added another dimension to his skill set over the course of the off season. He has been in the gym practicing his three-point shot. For his career, Saiz has only taken 11 from deep, converting on two of them.

But Saiz is confident he will make a major impact on offense if he can make at least 50 percent of his tries from beyond the arc.

The whole summer I was taking shots and getting reps, reps, and reps. It has opened up my game so much. Last year, players like Tomasz Gielo and Anthony Perez would get wide open 3’s….this year, it’s going to be me taking those shots. Shooting them gives me another weapon on the offensive side of the court and I think it’s going to help me a lot.

Sebastian Saiz 

Good-bye to the eye patch

Saiz was asked by one of the local reporters about the eye patch he was required to wear for almost a month over his surgically-repaired eye. Saiz admitted he was ready to stop wearing it.

“As soon as they told me I was good to go, I threw it away. I don’t want to see that thing ever again in my life.”

(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)

About The Author

Courtney Smith

Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men's basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.

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