By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Thrown a curve by his top post player, Ole Miss basketball coach Andy Kennedy says his only response is to hit the road.
Center Murphy Holloway announced Friday that he will transfer, his destination yet unknown, but it will be closer to his Irmo, S.C., home so he can help raise a six-month old daughter.
Suddenly a team that won 24 games with only one senior, has lost its second underclassman and could lose a third, NBA hopeful Terrico White, on or before May. That’s the deadline for White’s decision to return to school or follow through with the NBA draft.
Following his team’s loss to Dayton in the NIT semifinals, Kennedy talked about the possibility of attrition with some players.
White was an obvious possibility. Guard Eniel Polynice, in the wake of his decreased playing role, declared for the NBA draft and said he would not return to school.
But Kennedy never saw the Holloway thing coming.
“I got a phone call from his mother on Wednesday. I had a long conversation with her, then with Murphy. I’ve just tried to digest it all and give him some guidance,” he said.
Holloway was the SEC’s fifth-leading rebounder last year with 7.6 per game. He also averaged 10.1 points. In two seasons at Ole Miss he appeared in 65 games with 47 starts, totaling 606 points, 464 rebounds, 86 steals and 33 blocked shots.
Holloway said after his daughter was born his family raised the question of him transferring somewhere closer.
“I like being here. This is a place I can succeed from. I told them I wanted to stick it out this year, and I came to this conclusion right here,” he said.
Kennedy could grant Holloway’s transfer request with restrictions that would not allow him to transfer to the University of South Carolina, an SEC East rival minutes from his home.
He did not place those restrictions on Malcolm White, however. White, the starting center two years ago, will be eligible at LSU next season.
“This has all happened so quickly, we’ve not gotten into any of that. We’ll do whatever is in Murphy’s best interest,” he said.
Other Division I opportunities for Holloway could include Clemson, Winthrop and College of Charleston.
Holloway expressed disappointment in leaving and said he was concerned Kennedy would be upset with him.
“You never want to lose a player of Murphy’s caliber, but it’s a sign of his continued maturation. He has responsibilities far greater than getting rebounds or baskets,” Kennedy said. “I understand, and we will continue to support him.”
Holloway’s decision leaves Ole Miss with only three post players on the roster. One of them, forward DeAngelo Riley, could leave soon. “There are some questions about DeAngelo’s role and some questions in other areas. We are in conversations about what is in his best interests,” Kennedy said.
Earlier this week Kennedy announced two late-period signees, Donald Williams, a 6-foot-5 guard, and forward Isaiah Massey, 6-8, 225.
“My job is to make sure we field a competitive team. With this latest development obviously we have a scholarship opportunity that we’ll try to fill,” Kennedy said. “You get out there now and see what’s available.”