Head coach Kermit Davis and the Ole Miss basketball team will host Missouri tonight for their last home game in the 2019-20 season, but with the possibility for postseason basketball gone, all eyes in The Pavilion will be on No. 4.
Wednesday night will mark the final appearance in The Pavilion for senior Breein Tyree, who has become one of the most prolific scorers in recent Ole Miss history.
The four-year starter is second in the SEC in scoring, with 20.1 points per game, and is in the running for not only the Howell Trophy, the award given to the best college basketball player in the state, but also the SEC Player of the Year award.
He has used his scoring ability to carry the Rebels through a disappointing season and even threatened a resurgence from Ole Miss on a three-game win streak in which he scored 38, 23 and a career-high 40 points.
“Coming down to the end of my career at Ole Miss, I want to be remembered as one of the best guards to ever come here,” Tyree said after his career night. “I want to give fans, my parents (and) everybody something to cheer for… I’ve been scoring at a high rate lately, and just in that second half (by) scoring 27, I’d probably say that’s one of my best games.”
Over his career, Tyree’s work, especially this season, has gone from a promising freshman to a legitimate NBA prospect. Davis, who has coached against and for Tyree, said his talent was apparent from the start.
“I remember our early meetings when I first got the job,” Davis said, “(and watching) him grow as (a) freshman and a sophomore under (Andy Kennedy) and then the last two years. The things that he’s done here — a kid from Somerset, New Jersey, to Oxford, Mississippi — it’s pretty special.
Ole Miss just got its first steady presence in the NBA this year when former guard Terence Davis jumped onto the scene in Toronto after going undrafted and declining a two-way contract.
Since signing a two-year contract with the defending champions, Davis has become a consistent player in the rotation averaging 17.5 minutes per game and is on the way to legitimate playoff minutes.
Tyree could potentially follow the footsteps of his former backcourt partner and find a spot on an NBA roster after a senior season to remember.
NBA scouts are paying attention to Tyree because he’s shown an ability and willingness to take over a game, but there are questions about his size and ability on the defensive end. He made the move to the off-ball guard when Coach Davis took over the team but might need to move back to point guard with his 6-foot-2 frame.
“It’s meant a lot to know that I have experience in both,” Tyree said. “Moving off the ball — that was Coach Kermit’s idea based off of his evaluation of my game and seeing that I’m a natural scorer. I think it really helped.”
Tyree has always been a willing scorer, but he’ll need to show improvement in his ball handling and decision making to show NBA teams that he’s ready to initiate offense against professionals.
There is work to do before he can be asked to contribute to an NBA team for 82 games, but the future does look bright for No. 4. While Tyree might be off to the NBA next year, he said he is still focused on finishing this season strong.
“It didn’t go the way I wanted to this year. (There were) a lot of tough losses. Hopefully we can still put on a show,” Tyree said. “I got one NCAA Tournament berth already, and we still have a chance to get another, so I’m still trying to write it. It’s not over yet.”