OXFORD – A basketball team with no scholarship seniors at season’s end suddenly finds itself with two vacancies in less than a month.
Shooting guard David Huertas, the fourth-leading scorer in the SEC at 18.1 points a game, told Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy on Monday he will play professionally in his native Puerto Rico and will not be a part of the Rebels’ program next season. Huertas, who began his career at Florida and transferred to Ole Miss after his freshman season, would have been a senior.
Center Malcolm White, a rising junior from the Baton Rouge area, announced on March 26 he would transfer to be closer to home.
“After four years of college, I am ready to move into my life as an adult and be able to keep playing basketball and be with my family at the same time,” Huertas said in a university news release.
While Huertas led the Rebels in scoring through all games, freshman Terrico White led the team against SEC competition with 18.4 points a game.
With point guard Chris Warren expected to be among three players returning from a major knee injury, it’s unclear how Huertas and White would have fit in next season.
Guards Eniel Polynice and Trevor Gaskins, key components in 2007, are also expected to return from knee injuries for the 2009-10 campaign.
Kennedy and his assistant coaches have upgraded the talent in the program, but now they approach the spring signing period – which begins Wednesday and lasts for five weeks – with scholarships to offer they didn’t know they’d have.
“In our business you have to prepare for the unexpected. At the same time, we were not out actively looking to fill voids that were not there,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy said the signees could be high school, junior college or a mix.
“With the due diligence of our staff, we’ll pursue all avenues and bring in the right pieces for the puzzle.”
Court date looming
There is more than recruiting on Kennedy’s plate.
His court date stemming from his Dec. 18 arrest in Cincinnati on a simple assault charge is Monday in Cincinnati.
Kennedy and cab driver Mohamed Jiddou have also filed civil suits against one another.
There have been settlement discussions but nothing that appears imminent at this time. No court date has been set for the civil action, as the presiding judge waits to see what happens in the assault case.
Mike Allen, Kennedy’s attorney in the criminal matter, expects that case to go to trial next Monday as scheduled.
“Whether by trial or plea, it will be resolved a week from today,” Allen said Monday afternoon.
Allen said he believes Kennedy has a strong case, but he would not speculate on the outcome.
“Really, I can’t. We’ll just have to see what happens on Monday. I’ve always felt confident that we had a strong case. If it goes to trial, I still feel that we do, and I assume it will go to trial.”
Parrish Alford/Daily Journal