Back in April, the Ole Miss basketball team’s 2017 recruiting class was ranked #16 by 247sports.com and was in prime position to bring in the highest ranked class in program history. Since then, the Rebels have lost two of their top recruits and now rank 35th. Over the weekend, the Rebels released SF Jamarko Pickett from his LOI which he signed back in October 2016.
With Pickett’s departure, the Rebels lose their highest ranked recruit in the 2017 class. The Rebels must now replace a player who, after his commitment in October, head coach Andy Kennedy had high praise for.
“Jamarko is a long, athletic, versatile forward who can shoot the three, create off the bounce and protect the basket,” Kennedy said. “He a prime example of a kid being completely under the radar to blowing up with a strong showing on the AAU circuit in July. With added strength, his skill set is going to allow him to do big things at Ole Miss.”
With forwards Marcanvis Hymon and Justas Furmanavicius returning for the 2017-18 season, Pickett may have felt there was more opportunity for playing time elsewhere.
Off-the-court factors may have also played a part in Pickett’s decision. In May, multiple outlets reported that Kennedy’s contract had not been extended past the three years currently remaining on his deal. Shortly after that news came to light, longtime assistant Bill Armstrong left to join the coaching staff at LSU. Armstrong was one of Kennedy’s stronger recruiters and was instrumental in bringing both Pickett and guard Parker Stuart into the 2017-18 class. Stuart asked for his release back in early June and has since enrolled at Pittsburgh.
Other notable names missing from the Rebel roster are Cullen Neal and Donte Fitzpatrick Dorsey, who both opted to transfer following the 2016-17 season.
Despite the sting of Pickett’s decision, all hope is not lost for the Rebels 2017 class. Memphis transfer Markel Crawford will add a dynamic element to Ole Miss’ offense. Bruce Stevens, the talented JUCO PF, will come to Oxford to play for the Rebels, and Ole Miss still holds a commitment from another talented guard, Devontae Shuler.
Also a bright spot for Ole Miss is the return of prolific scorers like Deandre Burnett and Terence Davis. PG Breein Tyree continued to improve throughout his freshman season, and Rebel fans can expect more of the same in 2017-18. Tyree was unable to train during the off-season last year due to a knee injury, so with a full offseason of working out, Tyree should be even better this season.
The Rebels missed the NCAA tournament in 2016-17, and have their work cut out for them heading into 2017-18.
Steven Gagliano is the managing editor of HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.