I mentioned the word rebuilding to Andy Kennedy last week, and he disagreed that rebuilding is what his Rebels face in the upcoming basketball season.
He pointed to five of the top eight players returning. That is indeed true, but did you see the ones that got away … the school’s career-leading rebounder, the Rebels’ career-leading shot blocker and a glue guy who helped hold things together with grit and toughness.
Murphy Holloway, Reggie Buckner and Nick Williams are gone, Marshall Henderson, the SEC’s leading scorer, will be back.
There is a plan to replace those frontcourt starters, an intriguing plan but one that has its question marks.
Aaron Jones was a key reserve and was playing the best basketball of his Ole Miss career when he tore an ACL against Kentucky in the Rebels’ seventh SEC games.
Sounds like Jones is dealing with a little rehab fatigue. Otherwise things appear to be going good with his comeback.
Demarco Cox missed most of last season when a stress fracture in his foot required two surgeries. He expects to get a medical redshirt to get last season back. He’ll be entering his fourth season in the program. Like Jones, he’s played key minutes and has produced in a reserve role. He’s not been counted on as a starter and is coming off surgery.
If there are no glitches in the comebacks, and if Jones and Cox can play consistently at the high levels that both of them have shown for minutes in their careers, they can make this frontcourt thing work. There is no doubt it will be done by committee, and newcomers Dwight Coleby and Sebastian Saiz will indeed play key roles.
The frontcourt plan — or some sort of plan — has to work in order to keep teams from going all out to shut down Marshall Henderson.
Jones and Cox are really good places to start. The injuries cast a bit of uncertainty on the situation. Without the hurts they’d have been right on track, program guys who had gotten experience now arriving at their times to step up and shoulder more responsibility.
It may still work out that way.