By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy didn’t have to go to the wire with Duke or Syracuse to sign Jarvis Summers.
There were a handful of Division I offers, but his recruiting profile was not packed with teams from the power conferences.
However, Summers has made a big-time impact at point guard, where the Rebels have tried to replace Chris Warren, and he’s done it in different ways than were indicated on the scouting report that preceded him.
When asked about Summers in the off-season Kennedy first comments were always about his work ethic. That in itself is a good sign. If a high school signee arrives on campus with a willingness to work, other things can fall into place more easily.
Kennedy would go on to describe Summers as a pass-first or old-school point guard, a very different style than Warren’s 3-point shooting, high-scoring days.
That’s OK if the points come from other places, but scoring has been inconsistent for Ole Miss.
That changed Wednesday night when Reggie Buckner arrived on the offensive end, and Nick Williams shot 50 percent with 17 points in the Rebels’ 75-68 win over rival Mississippi State.
The help of us teammates allowed Summers to have an old-school type of game: 12 points on 5 for 11 shooting, five assists, one turnover in 32 minutes.
That hasn’t always been the case. Summers carried the Rebels to a road win at Penn State with 27 points and nearly to another at Auburn with 22.
He has grown into a legitimate scoring option, one that will be even more effective if Buckner’s 19-point outburst moves from isolated occurrence to trend and if Williams, who has averaged 16 points over the last three games, remains consistent.
As it stands, lightly recruited Summers has advanced more quickly than Memphis transfer Jelan Kendrick, the first McDonald’s All-American to sign with Ole Miss.
Summers gained an edge in minutes while Kendrick was waiting to become eligible at the posting of fall semester grades, but now Kendrick has games under his belt, and they’re both seeing the SEC for the first time.
Summers also outplayed MSU senior point guard Dee Bost, the savvy senior who has hurt the Rebels in this series before.
Bost’s final line read 15 points, six assists and no turnovers, but he was 4 for 15 from the floor, and more than half his points came in the last 42 seconds when Ole Miss was ahead by eight and had finally found the mark at the free throw line.
Summers knocked down a couple of 3-pointers in the first 5 minutes, helping relax the Rebels who struggled mightily to hit shots in the 69-68 double-overtime loss at Auburn. Summers’ fast start helped set a high-energy tone that Ole Miss was able to carry to the finish.
As a result the Rebels were able to exhale in frustration and enjoy a win in the series, something lacking the last couple of seasons.
There were a number of feel-good story lines for Ole Miss, not the least of which was a young old-school point guard doing what he’s done much of the year.
Parrish Alford (parrish.alford@ journalinc.com) covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily at Djournal.com.