While the fallout from the coronavirus has forced every program to make drastic changes to their preparations for next season, Kermit Davis remains excited to keep his foot on the gas pedal during this offseason, working to build a talented squad for 2020-21.
The Ole Miss head basketball coach said he’s found his groove in his routine working from home in the past few weeks, conducting weekly Zoom meetings with the team and calling recruits daily. He said he’s challenged each one of his players to get creative with their routines in order to effectively prepare for next season and expects them to be in shape whenever they’re able to return to campus.
“College basketball is going to get back to normal. It will,” he said. “Where are you going to find yourself when it gets back to normal? Are you going to use the virus as a really big excuse and not do anything? I mean there’s some cats out there that are working. You’re going to see college basketball players, NBA players separate themselves this year because there’s not a coach that’s sitting right on top of you.”
Of course training for each player won’t look the same as the team won’t have access to the facilities in Oxford for the foreseeable future. Shelter in place orders for players spread throughout the country and overseas have made it nearly impossible to get any basketball-specific training with gyms and public courts shut down.
Davis said his staff has been able to send out equipment like basketballs, stretch bands and jump ropes to help the players get some type of individual workout during the quarantine and has been pleased with how the team has responded in the past month.
While the players train in quarantine, Davis has been hitting the virtual recruiting trail, signing two talented transfers to bolster the roster. Dimencio Vaughn and Robert Allen will join Davis’ squad this year.
Vaughn will be eligible immediately as a graduate transfer but Allen, a 6-8 forward, will have to sit out a year after transferring in from Samford, where he averaged 14 points and 6.8 rebounds in the 2019-20 season.
“At times we’re still pretty young and pretty new. We’ve got a good group coming back… I just thought that we needed toughness. We needed rim protection. We needed another really good shooter. Our team needs to get more balanced,” Davis said. “We really thought we got rim protection and toughness around the goal with Robert and with Dimencio, just a guy that can play multiple positions but he almost shot 40% from three so to add a shooter like that was good value to us.”
Davis said he’s eager to get back with the team as soon as campus opens up, but he’s found ways to work from home effectively while retaining some signs of normalcy until then.
“I get up and I put work clothes on. I wasn’t doing that for a while. I think if I stayed in those stretch pants for too long I couldn’t fit in anything when I came back,” he joked. “So I said I’m fixing to shower every morning when I get through working out and put on pants because if they don’t fit right then I won’t eat as much.”