Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy doesn’t want to ‘just bring a guy in’ to fill final basketball scholarship

Published 5:59 am Thursday, June 29, 2017

Andy Kennedy likes the pieces he’s got to work with next season, but Ole Miss’ men’s basketball coach isn’t necessarily opposed to adding to them.

The Rebels still have a scholarship available if Kennedy chooses to use it. Ole Miss was at the NCAA-mandated 13-scholarship limit after signing international guard Illya Tyrtyshnik earlier this month, but another one opened up when guard Parker Stewart, who has since signed with Pittsburgh, asked for and was granted his release.

The Rebels are still deep in the backcourt with seven guards that could get minutes next season, including preferred walk-on DC Davis, while Kennedy believes a Sebastian Saiz-less frontcourt has been shored up with 7-foot transfer Dominik Olejniczak now eligible to go with the addition of junior college All-American forward Bruce Stevens.

Email newsletter signup

Kennedy said he’s still keeping his eyes open for additional talent, but he can afford to be picky.

“I don’t want to just bring a guy in,” Kennedy said. “It’s going to be hard for a guy to come in and crack that (rotation) because you’ve got veterans and guys that have experienced success at this level. We’re pretty solid with our core.”

If Ole Miss does fill its last scholarship, Kennedy said he’d ideally like to do it with more size on the wing or with the inside-out game of a skill forward. The Rebels started last season with 11 eligible scholarship players.

“Honestly it would be best available,” Kennedy said.

Silins ‘progressing’

A torn ACL and subsequent surgery ended Karlis Silins’ freshman season after a handful of games, but Kennedy said the Rebels’ big is on track to be full speed come the fall.

Silins won’t be cleared for contact until then, but he’s participating in everything he’s allowed to during summer workouts, Kennedy said.

“The goal is just to get him back from a rhythm standpoint in the months of June and July,” Kennedy said. “He’s progressing. He’s moving well. There’s been no setbacks, so we’re just going to kind of take it easy with him until we get in the fall and then hopefully he’ll be cleared for everything.”

The 6-foot-11 Silins played just 39 minutes last season and averaged 0.5 and 0.6 rebounds per game.

Still waiting

Stevens, Memphis transfer Markel Crawford and incoming freshman Devontae Shuler are already on campus going through workouts. Tyrtyshnik and forward Jamarko Pickett aren’t.

Tyrtshnik won’t report to Ole Miss until in August once he’s done competing for the U20 Ukrainian National Team in the European Championships in July. Kennedy said he expects to know something more definitive by the end of the week on Pickett, a top-100 national recruit that may be wavering on his decision to sign with Ole Miss.