Square Jam

Basketball practice begins Friday, and for the Ole Miss teams the first day will include a nifty, fan-friendly interactive event downtown.

Men’s coach Andy Kennedy credits athletics director Ross Bjork with “Square Jam,” which will take place at the conclusion of the homecoming parade. A full court with lights will be placed downtown for a basketball event involving the men’s and women’s teams. Both will have already conducted a real practice earlier in the day.

Basketball practice starts Friday. These are not the designs for the new arena, just one of the neat items you can find in the media relations work room.

First-year women’s coach Andrew Wiggins, who had great success at Fresno State, is trying to rebuild a proud program that has fallen on hard times. The ladies return two starters from a team was 12-18 overall, just 2-14 in the SEC last season.

Kennedy has what appears on paper to be his most complete roster yet, complete in the sense that there are scoring options and talent both inside and out — provided the newcomers are what their recruiting clips and previous histories say they are. Sometimes new guys take a while to get comfortable. If it takes these newcomers too long, that won’t be good news. What makes a couple of them different, however, is that they’ve already been around the D-I block, Marshall Henderson at Utah and Jason Carter at Alabama.

Henderson was the juco player of the year last year. He is not the only player that should make the Rebels a better perimeter shooting team this season, but he’s the most noteworthy after averaging 19.6 points and shooting 41 percent from 3 and leading South Plains College to the national championship last season. Henderson averaged 11.8 points and was honorable mention all-Mountain West Conference as a Utah freshman. He led the Utes in scoring in conference play at 13.6 points a game. He transferred to Texas Tech but left for South Plains after former coach Pat Knight was fired.

Kennedy isn’t calling this his most complete roster, but he’s calling it his deepest and most diverse. Mike Bianco would explain this way: Andy Kennedy has added a change-up to his pitch options.

“I think we probably have the most quality depth that we’ve had in my tenure here, and the most exciting thing about it is the diversity among the players,” Kennedy said. “I’m not sure you could categorize any two players as being the same. That gives us a variety of options, and it’s a matter of figuring out the best way to utilize the skill set of our guys.”

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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