Ole Miss got to officially meet its new men’s basketball coach Monday night.
A special press conference was held in The Pavilion to introduce Kermit Davis, longtime coach Andy Kennedy’s replacement.
Davis is a Mississippi native and played for Mississippi State from 1980 to 1982. He had worked for several college programs before taking over as head coach at Middle Tennessee in 2002. His Blue Raiders teams have made three appearances in the NCAA Tournament, but Davis’ group failed to earn a berth this year, insteading heading to the NIT.
The former Middle Tennessee man spoke well of his transition into Oxford.
“We’ve had a lot of great, positive conversations with all the players during the process. They have all been very receptive,” Davis said.
Davis will spend the coming months on the road recruiting, a process he described as “critical.” Davis intends to use a balance of new players out of new and old talent to round out the Rebels’ 2018-19 roster.
”We have a system of play.” Davis said. “We know how to recruit, too. We know exactly what we think Ole Miss needs to be successful. I think because of this we are going to get good players.”
Davis signed a four-year contract with the university, good for $2,500,000 per season. Ole Miss also paid his $700,000 buyout from Middle Tennessee. Davis now begins the process of assembling his staff, including the hiring of three assistant coaches. Ross Bjork and the Ole Miss Athletics Department have allocated $900,000 for the three hires, up from previous allocations.
Davis brought Ronnie Hamilton and Winn Case with him to Ole Miss. He said he’s going to interview all of the current staff and hold a national search to decide who will fill the third full-time spot.
“We have been given the means to go out and hire as good as staff as anybody in the SEC and we are going to do it. I feel great with our guys here.”
At Monday’s introduction, Davis spoke highly of the Ole Miss leadership and their commitment to the men’s basketball program.
“When I met with Chancellor Vitter and Ross Bjork I knew it was the right place for me. I wanted to align myself with leadership that I trust, aggressive thinking leadership and obviously a leadership that is committed, they are all in with Ole Miss basketball,” Davis said.
It has been an emotional 24-hour period for Davis, who coached his last game with Middle Tennessee Sunday, losing to Louisville in the National Invitational Tournament. But he will not get much rest before he hits the recruiting trail. With several freshman letter of intents already signed, Davis’ first recruitment class could make noise in the increasingly-competitive Southeastern Conference.
“All we can do is this. We have talked to all the signees in the fall, they feel very good. We will go see the new players, that’s just part of the process, there is no easy things or givens with transitions,” Davis said. “We are going to take our time. We are not going to rush into things or sign guys that we don’t think fit here and do our due diligence with the guys that are here and the guys that signed in the fall.”
More than anything, Davis seemed ready to settle in and get to work in Oxford.
“The infrastructure is there and the things that I feel about coming home to Mississippi, being in the Southeastern Conference, it was a perfect fit for me,” Davis said.