Ole Miss adds basketball assistant coach

OXFORD – Head coach Andy Kennedy strengthened his Ole Miss basketball program Monday by adding an exciting new staff member, promoting another and signing a familiar player.

It was announced today that former Middle Tennessee assistant coach Al Pinkins has accepted that same post for the Rebels, while Bill Armstrong has been elevated from Ole Miss’ coordinator of operations to assistant coach. In addition, former Rebel forward Murphy Holloway has transferred back to Ole Miss after a year at South Carolina.

Considered one of the rising coaches in the profession, Pinkston comes to Oxford after eight seasons with the Blue Raiders. He was involved in all aspects of the MTSU program, particularly recruiting throughout the South and developing the post players.

Pinkins was instrumental in the development of two-time, first-team All-Sun Belt Conference forward Desmond Yates, who reached the 1,000-point club as a junior. Pinkins also has helped develop 6-foot-10 center Theryn Hudson into one of Middle Tennessee’s all-time leaders in field goal percentage and tops in the Sun Belt in 2007-08.

A former player at N.C. State (1994-97), Pinkins has helped shape the Blue Raiders’ recent success in recruiting. He played a key role in landing a 2007 signing class rated No. 1 in the Sun Belt and No. 48 nationally by HoopScoop. The class also was rated the 13th-best among mid-majors nationally by Rivals.com.

“We are excited to announce that Al has joined our staff,” Kennedy said. “After working with (head coach) Kermit Davis at MTSU for the past eight seasons, he comes highly recommended. From recruiting to the development of our post players, Al will be an immediate asset to our program.”

Armstrong returns to the bench after successfully serving as coordinator of operations for Kennedy’s first five years at Ole Miss, which included two SEC Western Division titles and a pair of NIT Final Four berths.

Before his arrival in Oxford, Armstrong spent three years as an assistant coach at Birmingham-Southern. In his first season with the Panthers in 2003-04 – BSC’s first season of full NCAA eligibility – Armstrong helped the team to a 20-7 record and a 12-4 mark in conference play, earning a share of the Big South regular-season championship. Birmingham-Southern posted a 19-9 finish in his final year.

A four-year lettermen (1998-2001) and graduate assistant (2001-02) at UAB, Armstrong earned his first full-time coaching position as an assistant at Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Fla. He helped lead the Indians to a 23-9 record and a second-place finish in the Panhandle Conference in 2002-03.

“I have known Bill for over 20 years and have seen his continued development as a coach,” said Kennedy. “As our operations director over the past five seasons, Bill has been my ‘right-hand man.’ He deserves this opportunity.”

Holloway is back in the Red Blue after spending the 2010-11 season closer to his family in South Carolina. As a transfer, he sat out the year for the Gamecocks and redshirted.

Holloway started 30 of 34 games for the Rebels in his sophomore campaign in 2009-10, averaging 10.1 points and a team-high 7.6 rebounds per contest. The 6-foot-7, 230-pound native of Irmo, S.C., ranked fifth in the SEC in rebounding and eighth in steals (1.5/game). He finished sixth among league players with eight double-doubles.

In two seasons at Ole Miss, Holloway amassed 606 career points, 464 rebounds, 86 steals and 33 blocks. He played in 65 games with 47 starts.

“When Murph informed me of his need to go home and take care of his personal responsibilities last year, I supported his decision,” Kennedy said. “When he then asked me to come back and join our program after his family situation had improved, I welcomed him back with open arms. We look forward to seeing him back in an Ole Miss uniform.”

Pinkston and Armstrong fill coaching positions left vacant by Michael White, who was named head coach at Louisiana Tech, and Torrey Ward, who is pursuing other coaching opportunities.

Ole Miss Media Relations