After a season full of either close losses or blowout losses in 2020 for the Ole Miss women’s basketball team, the 2021 Rebels have already tied and will likely pass last year’s seven wins in the almost dozen remaining games scheduled for the regular season.
When Ole Miss hired head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin in the spring of 2018, the team was coming off of a 1-15 performance in conference play and a 9-20 record overall in the 2017-2018 season under former head coach Matt Insell. However, in the two seasons since Insell’s departure, McPhee-McCuin has struggled to lead the team to a 16-55 overall record with a 3-29 record in conference. Last season, the Rebels lost every conference game for the first time since conference play started in the 1981-1982 season.
While the 2020 season led many fans and pundits to wonder whether McPhee-McCuin’s time at Ole Miss would soon be cut short, she had a comeback plan that seems to be working.
With her charismatic personality and a barrage of recruiting posts on Twitter and Instagram, McPhee-McCuin landed the No. 1 women’s basketball recruiting class in the SEC and No. 13 nationwide.
This recruiting class included junior Shakira Austin, the No. 1 transfer player in the nation from the University of Maryland. Austin was initially supposed to sit the season out because of transfer rules, but she was ruled immediately eligible and has since led the Rebels in scoring, blocks and rebounds this season.
Along with Austin, the Rebels added two five star recruits to the team this year: Madison Scott and Jacorriah Bracy. Scott, who was ranked No. 15 in the nation and No. 2 in her position as forward, has made an immediate impact being the team’s fourth-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder.
Along with the new faces on the team, familiar ones have made improvements to their game since last season as well. Senior Mimi Reid leads the team in assists and is averaging the third-most minutes on the team.
With the COVID-19 scheduling leading to less non-conference play, the team is set to take on only SEC teams for the rest of the year, which will be a true test of the Rebels’ improvements since last season.
Five SEC teams currently ranked in the top 25, and if the Rebels can win a game against one of the powerhouse programs such as Tennessee or South Carolina, they will have a shot of sneaking their way into the top 25.
The biggest surprise to look for is if the Rebels will make it to March Madness, which has not been done since 2006.