Ole Miss basketball coach Andy Kennedy picked up the second verbal commit for his 2011 signing class Monday in Gautier power forward Aaron Jones.
While Kennedy clearly wanted Cleveland's Johnny O'Bryant, rated the No. 1 center in the 2011 class, he wanted Jones too.
As well he should.
Jones is 6-foot-9 – with a wingspan of 7-2 – and athletic. His high school coach, Keith McQueen, calls him the best shot-blocker he's seen in 26 years. When he arrives for the 2011-2012 season, Jones should pair nicely with Reginald Buckner, who will be a junior then.
Jones is also a skilled ball-handler with the ability to lead the break. “Upside” is the buzz word around him. Recruiters tell McQueen they see Jones getting better and better.
McQueen told Scout.com that Jones has flown under the radar because he hasn't played AAU ball, but last summer he began to make a name for himself on the camps circuit.
Jones said he chose Ole Miss or MSU, Baylor, UTEP and Memphis and that Florida was beginning to show more interest in him.
He is expected to sign a letter of intent in November, along with shooting guard LaDarius White of McComb, who committed last March.
Jones and White will contribute next season.
This season is under way. SEC Media Day is Thursday in Hoover, Ala. The preseason poll was released yesterday with the West going this way: MSU, Ole Miss, Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Auburn.
Ole Miss has a chance to compete in the West but faces the unknown of relying on so many new players, even though one of those, guard Nick Williams, was a starter at Indiana two years ago.
The Rebels wil need early and significant contributions from their junior college transfers and from freshman center DeMarco Cox.
Chris Warren, deservingly, was voted first-team preseason All-SEC. If he makes the first team at the end of the season it could mean the Rebels are back in the NCAAs.