Kermit Davis is just weeks into his tenure at the helm of Ole Miss Men’s Basketball, but he is already creating excitement around the program. The Rebels have agreed to a home-and-home series against the Butler Bulldogs beginning in the 2018-19 season.
Ole Miss will travel to Indianapolis, Indiana, next season to take on the Bulldogs. This marks the first time that the two schools will matchup on the hardwood. Butler has established itself as a perennial power in college basketball over the last decade. In this time, it has had two trips to the National Championship game and is currently on a four-year run of appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
Coach Davis knows firsthand the kind of talent the Bulldog program possesses. He faced Butler in the 2017 NCAA Tournament as the head coach of Middle Tennessee State.
“I have so much respect for the tradition of Butler Basketball,” Davis said when the series was announced. “We are looking forward to the challenge of going to Hinkle Fieldhouse this year. This will be a great home-and-home series for our program.”
Scheduling this series should add some excitement to a program that needs it after the departure of Andy Kennedy. With it, coach Davis proves he is willing to test his program against the best the college basketball landscape has to offer: Butler is returning three starters to a team that lost in the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament.
The following year, Ole Miss will host the Bulldogs in the Pavilion. Joining Ole Miss’ quarterfinals matchup against Georgia Tech in the 2017 National Invitation Tournament, this game has the chance to be one of the most-contested non-conference matchups played in the state-of-the-art facility. If the Rebels can be successful in their first year under Davis, the Pavilion should be packed.
Additionally, the series’ announcement came with another that the Rebels will again compete in a Thanksgiving weekend tournament in 2018. The team will travel to Niceville, Florida, to join George Mason, Cincinnati and Baylor in the Emerald Coast Classic. Ole Miss defeated Cincinnati in the 2014 edition of the tournament.
The early returns of Coach Davis’ hire are already proving their impact on the schedule and in the recruiting cycle. Davis was able to maintain power forward Zach Naylor’s commitment. Having recruits reaffirm commitments during coaching changes is always a difficult task, but Davis’ success will play well during recruiting.
In addition to making scheduling decisions, Davis has reportedly rounded out his coaching staff already. National college basketball insider Jon Rothstein is reporting that Arizona State’s Levi Watkins will join Davis in Oxford. Watkins has worked as a recruiting coordinator and has overseen player development for current Sun Devil head coach Bobby Hurley. Once official, Watkins will join Win Case and Ronnie Hamilton, whom Davis brought with him from Middle Tennessee State, on a well experienced coaching staff.
Coach Davis’ time at Ole Miss is still in its infancy. The team is months away from taking the court; however, Davis is working to create early excitement for a program that lacked it last season.