Ole Miss Men’s Basketball Preview: Rebels Open Season Tuesday vs. New Orleans
OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss opens the 2021-2022 season Tuesday against New Orleans, and we’ve got you covered with a preview of who and what to watch.
This year’s Rebel team is different, and Coach Davis believes it is the most talented group he’s had, top to bottom, since he’s been in Oxford. Last year, the 2020-2021 team finished with a first-round exit in the post-season NIT against Louisiana Tech, ending the season 16-12 following an impressive late-season run that had them placed firmly on the NCAA Tournament Bubble.
For 2021-2022, Ole Miss will be without two of last year’s stars in Devontae Shuler and Romello White. This team has turned to a large class of newcomers featuring a healthy mix of incoming high school talent and transfers from other programs.
Let’s take a look at who is in and who is out for Ole Miss, and then what the Rebels will see from New Orleans.
Who’s In for the Rebels?
- Jaemyn Brakefield: 6-8″ 215lb Forward, SO, Averaged 3.5 PPG (Transfer from Duke)
- Nysier Brooks: 7-0″ 240lb Center, GR-SR, Averaged 7.4 PPG (Transfer from Miami)
- Tye Fagan: 6-3″ 170lb Guard, SR, Averaged 9.2 PPG (Transfer from Georgia)
- Daeshun Ruffin: 5-9″ 160lb Guard, FR, (#51 in ’21 Class, #8 PG)
- Eric van der Heijden: 6-8″ 205lb Forward, FR, (#215 in ’21 Class, #39 PF)
- James White: 6-5″ 190lb Wing, FR, (#206 in ’21 Class, #45 SG)
- Grant Slatten: 6-5″ 195lb Wing, FR (#224 in ’21 Class, #48 SG)
- Devontae Shuler: 6-2″ 185lb Guard, SR, Averaged 15.3 PPG (PRO)
- Romello White: 6-8″ 235lb Forward, SR, Averaged 11.4 PPG and 6.0 RPG (PRO)
- KJ Buffen: 6-7″ 230lb Forward, JR, Averaged 8.4 PPG (Transfer to UAB)
- Khadim Sy: 6-10″ 230lb Center, SR, Averaged 3.1 PPG (Transfer to Wake Forest)
- Dimencio Vaughn: 6-5″ 215lb, Wing, SR, Averaged 1.7 PPG (Transfer to Rider)
- Antavion Collum: 6-7″ 230lb, Forward, SO, Averaged 1.1 PPG (Transfer to Cal State Bakersfield)
- Shon Robinson: 6-11″ 220lb, Center, FR, Averaged 1.3 PPG (Transfer to San Jose State)
A look at New Orleans on November 9
- Coach: Mark Slessinger
- 2020-2021 Record: 10-15 (8-7)
- Final 2020-2021 NET Ranking: 288th
- Key Additions: Tyson Jackson (MTSU), Daniel Sackey (Valparaiso), Robby Robinson (Nevada), Simeon Kirkland (UAB), Jamond Vincent (HS)
- Key Losses: Damion Rosser (PRO), Lamont Berzart (Transfer), Ahren Freeman (Transfer), Isaiah Jones (Transfer), LaDarius Marshall (Transfer), Larry Robinson (Transfer), Jay Rodgers (Transfers)
Coach Slessinger has been at the helm of the Privateer program since 2011. Much like Ole Miss and a lot of other teams, the New Orleans program has had to navigate a great deal of roster turnover. Their leading scorer, Damion Rosser, decided to forgo his remaining college eligibility to find a career overseas. The Privateers have also had a handful of guys join the transfer portal including pieces like Lamont Berzart and Ahren Freeman.
New Orleans will look for big impact and leadership from their two returning guards Troy Green and Derek St. Hilare. Six-foot-ten-inch big man, Simeon Kirkland could see some early playing time and is a former JUCO recruit who spent time at IMG Academy as a prospect.
This, like a few others, is a buy game. For those who don’t know, that means it is a one-game deal where the home team (Ole Miss) paid for New Orleans to come and play. The talent and pedigree swing in Ole Miss’ favor, but there are also a couple of gameplay styles that give Coach Davis’ team a favorable matchup.
The first and most notable thing for this matchup is that the Privateers have been in the Top 25 in turnovers per game for every one season but one under Slessinger. The Ole Miss defense was stifling for a good majority of last season, and the different looks that Davis throws at opponents could stun a New Orleans team playing on the road.
Secondly, the New Orleans team is effective at taking twos. They ranked top-20 nationally in the past two seasons for two-point field goals attempted. They are better ranked at making them. The Rebel defense was very effective at limiting two-point field goals last season, and with them having versatile players on the wings and an athletic frontcourt the Rebels could be a force on that end again. Overall the Rebels should be heavy favorites in this one.
(Feature image credit: Petre Thomas, Ole Miss)