Jan 24, 2015; Oxford, MS, USA; Mississippi Rebels head coach Andy Kennedy (L) talks to Rebels guard Stefan Moody (42) against the Florida Gators at C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum. The Rebels won 72-71. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports
Last week we introduced the Tuesday Top Ten segment with a piece detailing the top ten wins of Hugh Freeze’s young tenure. After much deliberation for this week’s edition, we have decided to break down the ten best players to suit up under head basketball coach Andy Kennedy. Many things were taken into account as this list was made, including: what the team accomplished, their significance to the team(s) they were on, and so forth. Our list kicks off with the only player under AK to win an NCAA national championship.
10. David Huertas, 2007-2009
Huertas sat out the 2006-2007 season following a transfer from the University of Florida where he saw minutes as a reserve on the 2006 national champion team featuring Joakim Noah and Al Horford. Once he regained his eligibility, the Puerto Rico native became a perfect backcourt compliment to Chris Warren. In 2007-2008, Huertas averaged 10.7 points per game, good for third on the team. The following year, he made a huge jump up to 18.1 ppg and a 41.7 percent field goal percentage, earning him second-team all-conference.
After his breakout junior year, Huertas decided to forgo his final season and play professionally in Puerto Rico, where he’s had a steady and productive career. He is currently playing for Capitanes de Arecibo as well as the country’s national team.
9. Clarence Sanders, 2005-2007
After a prolific junior college career at Okaloosa-Walton Community College, Sanders enrolled at Ole Miss with two years of eligibility remaining. Sanders played sparingly in 2005-2006, averaging 9.1 ppg in just over 23 minutes per game. Once Kennedy took over the following offseason, Sanders’ role with the team increased dramatically.
Sanders scored 16.1 ppg and was instrumental in the team winning the SEC West crown in Kennedy’s first year in Oxford. The Alabama native was named All-SEC and was drafted by the Anaheim Arsenal of the NBDL. He went on to a career overseas and will always be remembered as the instrumental piece in the guinea pig stage of the current regime.
8. Stefan Moody, 2014-Current
This is Moody’s place on the list as of July 7. If I’m a betting man, and my bank account says that I am, I would say he has a very good chance of moving up this list at the end of this season. His place in the order is merely due to the fact he has played just one season in Tad Smith Coliseum.
Last season, Moody had a big pair of shoes to fill by having to replace Marshall Henderson as the team’s primary scorer. The Lil Wayne doppleganger was used to scoring after putting up big numbers at Florida Atlantic in 2012-2013 before transferring to the Southeastern Conference. Once he made the transition, he did just that, and in bunches. Moody averaged 16.6 ppg, including 26 points in a near upset of No. 1 Kentucky on the road. The combo guard was an integral part in the Rebels making the NCAA Tournament and defeating BYU in the first round.
7. Terrance Henry, 2008-2012
Quite possibly the biggest recruit Kennedy has landed, Henry chose the Rebels over offers from the likes of Arkansas, Kansas, LSU and Miami. Big things were expected from the lanky forward who came in with a lackluster freshman season in 2008-2009, averaging just 4.2 points and 3.6 rebounds.
Each successive year after that, Henry improved. By the time he was a senior, he was the go-to guy for the Rebel hoops team, sporting averages of 12.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.6 assists per game and 1.0 blocks per game. His overall career may not have reflected the recruit he was projected to be, but Henry’s growth as a player was as good as any since 2006.
Feb 12, 2015; Gainesville, FL, USA; Ole Miss Rebels guard Jarvis Summers (32) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against the Florida Gators at Stephen C. O
6. Jarvis Summers, 2011-2015
One of the lasting memories of Summers’ time at the Tad Pad will be when the arena was nearly empty against feeble out-of-conference opponents. Typically one to draw the ire of Kennedy, Summers would have all four syllables of his name echoing through the arena by the tune of a bellowing “Jar-vis Sum-mers.”
Still, Summers had an outstanding career in Oxford and played a crucial role in both Tournament teams under AK. A four-year starter, Summers had a career-high in points during his junior year with 17.3 per game, and a career-high in assists as a senior with 4.8 apg. In addition to his tremendous court stewardship, maybe Summers’ best attribute was his low turnover numbers, averaging 2.15 per game for his career.
5. Terrico White, 2008-2010
White has not been the best scorer or best guard under Kennedy, but he’s still the only player to get drafted under the pinstriped principal of Rebel hoops. After two years in Oxford, White entered the draft and was taken No. 36 overall by the Detroit Pistons. He became a YouTube and SportsNation sensation for his spectacular dunks in the summer league.
Unfortunately for White, he suffered a fractured foot in his first preseason game and was subsequently out for the year. His NBA career never recovered and he was cut by the team after just one year, immediately joining the New Orleans Hornets before getting cut a week later. White has bounced around the world since then and is currently playing in Russia.
4. Reginald Buckner, 2009-2013
Henry wasn’t the only highly-recruited player to sign with Ole Miss under Kennedy. Buckner was the No. 29 overall player in the country coming out of high school and will go down as one of the best to ever wear a Rebel uniform.
All four years “Reggie” called Oxford home, he was a menace on the interior. His 324 blocks put him first in Ole Miss history and fifth in SEC history. Astonishingly enough, each of the top four single-season block totals belong to Buckner. Never a good free throw or jump shooter, the long forward made his mark intimidating and rejecting on the defensive end, and throwing down monstrous jams on offense.
3. Murphy Holloway, 2008-2010, 2011-2013
From one statistic leader in school history to another, Holloway is the all-time leader in rebounds for Ole Miss.A big, bruising forward, Holloway bullied SEC opponents for four years, garnering the respect of coaches and players alike. After family issues arose in his native South Carolina, he transferred to USC and sat out the 2010-2011 season. Despite not playing a game for the Gamecocks, Holloway transferred back for his final two seasons in red and blue.
Whether it’s his toothy smile, friendly demeanor, or his permeating affection for his university, Holloway and fans had an almost spiritual relationship. He was beloved by and all Rebel fans, and his contributions to the program and the community will long be remembered.
2. Chris Warren, 2007-2011
The moment Warren stepped onto campus in 2007, he was a scoring machine. He averaged at least 15.8 ppg each season, including 19.6 in his sophomore campaign. Never afraid to launch up a three-pointer, Warren was a target by every opposing team he faced. The talent around Warren never caught up to him and he was unable to make the Big Dance during any of his four years in Oxford.
Since then, he became a star in Australia and is now playing in Turkey in one of the most respected leagues in the world. Ole Miss fans won’t remember him for his international career, but you can bet they can’t forget his buzzer beater to take down Kentucky.
Ole Miss Rebels guard Marshall Henderson (22) celebrates after the championship game of the SEC tournament at Bridgestone Arena. Mississippi won 66-63. (Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports)
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1. Marshall Henderson, 2012-2014
I mean, who else? Whether it is lambasting the Gator Chomp up and down the sideline and Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, pumping his jersey at the Auburn student section, hurling an ice cube into his own home stands, or shooting pistols in the air more than the members of N.W.A., Henderson is a legend.
Known only by his first name, Marshall put Ole Miss on the national map like no one else in program history. He was eccentric, fearless, brazen, and most importantly, he was lethal. The 6’2 Texan was as exciting as any collegiate player in recent memory and was the epitome of must-see-TV. He led the team to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in over a decade and was a big reason why the Rebels upset Wisconsin, who played for a national title just two years later, in the first round. Averaging over four three-point field goals per game, and over 19 ppg in each of his seasons in Oxford, “Hendo” wasn’t just a spectacle, he was one of, if not the, best player in program history.