By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Christmas will most likely come early for Andy Kennedy, but it may not come as early as Saturday.
The Ole Miss basketball coach is awaiting the addition to his team of transfer Jelan Kendrick and freshman signee LaDarius White, who are both awaiting academic clearance at the close of the fall semester.
Ole Miss (7-1) is at home Saturday for a 2 p.m., tip against Mississippi Valley State (1-7).
After a very successful three games following Thanksgiving, the Rebels were off during final exams this week.
Once grades are posted, Kendrick and White must still be certified by the school and the NCAA.
The last exams were scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday.
“I’m not exactly sure when all that will be completed,” Kennedy said. “There are a number of factors that have to be met, getting the grades, getting them posted, getting them certified. That’s a process I can’t control.”
Kendrick and White will make the Rebels bigger on the perimeter. Kendrick, a McDonald’s All-American from suburban Atlanta and a Memphis signee before transferring last year, checks in at 6-foot-7, 210, White at 6-6, 208.
The debut for Kendrick could be delayed even after certification. He is recovering from sports hernia surgery but is expected to be back on the practice floor soon.
“They are big guards who can play multiple positions, which obviously changes the aspect of our team on both ends of the floor,” Kennedy said.
Three-point shooting and free-throw shooting are aspects Kennedy would like to see change. The Rebels have struggled in both areas through much of the season, though they showed significant improvement in Sunday’s 72-70 win at Penn State, hitting 11-of-25 3-point shots, 7-of-10 free throws.
In earlier games Kennedy felt his players were settling for 3-point shots at times.
“He didn’t tell us not to shoot 3s,” said junior guard Nick Williams, laughing. “We made a conscious effort of trying to get the ball down low and play inside-out. We feel like it comes easier that way.”
Williams was 11-for-18 from the floor and scored 27 points in the wins at DePaul and Penn State.
Even with the better outing against the Nittany Lions, the Rebels are still shooting just 24.8 percent from 3-point range, 56.1 percent from the free throw line.