By Parrish Alford | NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – The debut was worth the wait. Now Ole Miss fans hope the future is equal to the expectation.
LaDarius White announced his presence early against Mississippi Valley State Saturday, knocking down four 3-pointers in the first half of the Rebels’ 80-56 win.
A freshman from McComb, White had to sit out until the completion of fall semester classes until the NCAA would certify him to play.
Other freshmen, meanwhile, gained a head start on White and have been making plays at Ole Miss and around the league.
Two other Ole Miss targets, guard Rashad Madden and center Johnny O’Bryant, have been making an impact, and in the case of O’Bryant earning some starts, at Arkansas and LSU.
White, a 6-foot-6 guard, was an early commit to Ole Miss in the recruiting process and signed with the Rebels in the early period last November.
“When we zeroed in on him his junior year, we felt like he was one of the most talented players. You’ve got to remember, he was in that vaunted class, last year’s class in Mississippi, that many people felt was as deep as any in the history of the state,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “Obviously time will tell, but we felt like going in he was the guy we wanted.”
Kennedy got the guy he wanted if not an early return from White.
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Having had success against a solid non-conference schedule to date – including road wins at DePaul and Penn State – the Rebels could be getting stronger with the addition of White and Memphis transfer Jelan Kendrick, a 6-7 guard from suburban Atlanta, who is expected to make his debut Wednesday night against Louisiana-Lafayette.
News of White’s clearance didn’t come until last Friday, the day before the Valley game.
“I was happy. My teammates were happy. They feel that I’m a big part of this team and that I can bring a lot to this team,” he said.
White, known as “Snoop” to his teammates, made good on their confidence. He was 6-for-12 from the floor, 4-for-8 from the 3-point line. He finished with 16 points, six rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots.
While he began with a burst, he showed his youth and inexperience at times in the second half.
“He started off like gangbusters but got a little tentative at times in the second half,” Kennedy said. “The flow of the game, some decisions I’m sure he wishes he could do over, but I think he can really add a new dimension to our team.”
White and Kendrick also add the “competition” dimension during practice, a delightful thought for Kennedy as players work harder to ensure their minutes on game days.
Junior forward Reggie Buckner calls the practice competition among the guards “bone on bone” tough right now.
“And adding the two missing pieces we’ve got it’s going to be even harder,” Buckner said. “Snoop’s going to bring it every day. He’s going to hustle and play hard.”