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Ole Miss basketball releases top-100 forward Jamarko Pickett from scholarship

Ole Miss has lost another member of its highly touted recruiting class.

Four-star forward Jamarko Pickett asked for and was granted a release from his National Letter of Intent on Friday, head coach Andy Kennedy said. The 6-foot-8, 190-pound Pickett, ranked the nation’s No. 76 overall prospect by 247Sports.com and No. 77 by Rivals.com, was the highest-rated signee in a class that was ranked in the top 20 nationally before moves began being made in what’s been an unstable offseason for the program.

Shortly after word got out in May that Ole Miss wasn’t extending Kennedy’s contract to the maximum four years allowed in Mississippi, his longest-tenured assistant, Bill Armstrong, left to join Will Wade’s staff at LSU. Three-star guard Parker Stewart, who signed with the Rebels in the fall along with Pickett and four-star guard Devontae Shuler, was released from his NLI in June and has since signed with Pittsburgh.

Shuler, junior college All-American forward Bruce Stevens, Ukranian guard Illya Tyrtyshnik and Memphis transfer Markel Crawford make up the Rebels’ class as of now. The Rebels could add to it with Pickett’s departure leaving Ole Miss two scholarship players shy of the NCAA-mandated 13-scholarship limit.

The Rebels still have depth in the frontcourt with the addition of Stevens and the availability of 7-footer Dominik Olejniczak, who sat out last season after transferring from Drake. Olejniczak will step in for the departed Sebastian Saiz and log most of the minutes at center while Stevens, an inside-out option that shot nearly 40 percent from 3-point range last season at Jones County Junior College, will mostly play power forward.

Justas Furmanavicius and Marcanvis Hymon are back and could play either forward spot when the Rebels go big. Karlis Silins, at 6-11, is working his way back from a torn ACL that caused him to miss most of his freshman season.