Kermit Davis wasted no time after his March hiring in building his first recruiting class as the Rebels’ head coach. He lost four key seniors this off-season: Deandre Burnett, Markel Crawford, Marcanvis Hymon and Justas Furmanavicius, but Davis feels confident heading into the new school year.
He summed up his off-season rather simply.
“It has been a quick summer but a productive summer,” Davis said.
After spending 16 years building Middle Tennessee State into an NCAA tournament caliber program, Davis made an immediate impact on the Ole Miss recruiting trail when he brought two former MTSU commits down to Oxford with him.
D.J. Buffen, a 3-star forward from Gainesville, Georgia, was the first to sign. Standing at 6 feet, 7 inches tall and weighing 220 pounds, Buffen has length and athleticism that will be a welcome addition to the Ole Miss roster. He is coming off his senior season at Gainesville High School, where he was named the 8-6A Player of the Year after averaging 16 points and seven rebounds per game.
Carlos Curry, a 3-star power forward from Albany, Georgia, checks in as the second signee of the Kermit Davis regime. At 6-foot-11 and 240 pounds, Curry averaged 15 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks per game during his senior season of high school. His size and defensive presence will be a key piece of the Rebels’ frontcourt, following the departures of Hymon and Furmanavicius.
Three-star recruit Franco Miller Jr. was the next recruit to sign to Ole Miss under Davis and chose the Rebels over offers from Oregon, Minnesota and Oklahoma. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound point guard from the Bahamas averaged 25 points, six rebounds and five assists per game in his senior campaign at Crestwood Preparatory College in Ontario, Canada.
The next recruit Davis lured to Oxford is 3-star small forward Luis Rodriguez, who signed with the Rebels out of Woodstock Academy in Connecticut. During his career at Woodstock, he averaged 14 points and seven rebounds per game in his senior season. Rodriguez, a 6-foot-6, 200-pound player, was a major victory for Davis, who beat out Illinois and UMass for the services of Connecticut’s No. 1 high school player.
The Rebels also added a top-100 player to their 2018 class in the form of a 6-foot-7 shooting guard, Blake Hinson. Hinson, who finished his high school career at Sunrise Christian Academy as the No. 1 player in Kansas, averaged 15 points and six rebounds per game. Hinson chose the Rebels over Clemson, Florida State and Memphis, among others.
Rounding out the 2018 recruiting class is junior college transfer Brian Halums. The 6-foot-5, 185-pound shooting guard hailing from Hollandale averaged 17 points per game on 55 percent shooting and 45 percent shooting from the 3-point line at Itawamba Community College. Halums’ sharp-shooting talents will be much-needed, as the Rebels shot only 31.9 percent as a team from deep during the 2017 season. Halums is an incredibly athletic find for the Rebels and received high praise from Davis.
“There will be no better athlete in college basketball in terms of running and jumping,” said Davis.
Davis and his staff have worked to out-duel competing Power Five schools for key pieces of Davis’ inaugural Rebel recruiting class, which ranks No. 9 in the SEC and No. 51 in the nation. The Rebels will look to improve upon their last-place 2017 SEC campaign, in which they went 12-20. The 2018 class’ No. 51 national ranking is the best since that of the 2012 recruiting class, which was headlined by Rebel hero Marshall Henderson.