Rebel basketball got another boost Wednesday night as Memphis graduate transfer Markell Crawford, a 6-foot 5-inch shooting guard, committed to Ole Miss.
Fending off interest from schools including Iowa State and South Carolina, Crawford’s addition bolstered an already impressive 2017 recruiting class that includes two four-star recruits in Jamarko Pickett and Devontae Shuler, as well as junior college transfer Bruce Stevens.
Crawford committed just days after 247 Sports released their annual basketball recruiting class rankings; Ole Miss came in at 16, the school’s highest ever ranking.
Last season at Memphis, Crawford averaged more than 32 minutes per game and contributed 12.8 points per game, second on the team in scoring. Known for his explosive athleticism and lethal shot, Crawford will add much needed veteran composure to a young Rebel team in search of a leader.
Head coach Andy Kennedy, the longest tenured basketball coach in the SEC, has had his eye on Crawford for quite some time.
“We recruited him years ago when he was coming out of Melrose in Memphis, and this time we were successful,” Kennedy said. “He was a heavy coveted post-grad transfer whom we’ve played against the last two years. We’re looking forward to having him in a Rebel uniform next season.”
Crawford posted 16 points and grabbed four rebounds in the Tigers’ loss to Ole Miss last season. He also scored 28 points against eventual NCAA Final Four competitor South Carolina.
“He is a versatile guard capable of playing either backcourt position,” Kennedy said. “He is big, strong and athletic with the ability to make plays both on the offensive and defensive ends.”
When The Pavilion opened in last January, both Kennedy and athletics director Ross Bjork were adamant about the effect the world class facility would have on recruiting. That initial investment seems to already be paying off.
Pickett, a consensus four-star prospect and top-100 recruit, and Shuler, another four-star, top-100 high school player, headlined Ole Miss’ 2017 basketball class before Crawford’s commitment. The two had a slew of options across the nation but decided to take their talents to Oxford.
“Jamarko (Pickett) is a long, athletic, versatile forward who can shoot the three, create off the bounce and protect the basket,” Kennedy said.
Ultimately players like Pickett, Shuler and Crawford choosing Ole Miss over schools known more for their basketball prowess speaks wonders to the bright future of Ole Miss basketball. SEC basketball is on the rise and this recruiting class, topped off with Crawford’s announcement last night, will put the Rebels right in the mix.