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New Head Basketball Coach Kermit Davis Ready to Lead Ole Miss

Kermit Davis receiving a new Ole Miss blazer. Photo by Talbert Toole

A new era of Ole Miss basketball is here. The Rebels officially introduced Kermit Davis to fans inside the Pavilion Monday night as the 22nd head coach of the program.

“I’m incredibly honored and excited to be the basketball coach at the University of Mississippi,” Davis said. “We are extremely grateful to Chancellor Vitter and Ross for giving me the opportunity to lead such a prestigious program in the best basketball league in America. Coming back to my home state of Mississippi to build a national brand is absolutely a dream come true for us. I am Mississippi made and cannot wait to join the rest of the Ole Miss family.”
Davis came to Ole Miss after spending 16 seasons as the head coach of the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders. He just took MTSU into the second round of the National Invitational Tournament against the Louisville Cardinals.
“It was hard to leave Murfreesboro,” Davis said. “It really was. That was a place I thought I may be there the rest of my life. We built a national brand in basketball at Middle Tennessee. I would only leave for a prestigious university and a place that I think is in the best basketball conference in America.”
A native of Leaksville, Mississippi, he led the Blue Raiders to league titles in seven of his last nine years in Murfreesboro, between Conference USA and the Sun Belt. Middle Tennessee is one of five programs he has led to conference championships in 36 years as an assistant and head coach.
What is Ole Miss Basketball going to look like?
“It’s going to be relentless, athletic, explosive, a team that’s going to have to play on and on and on to beat,” Davis said. “It’s going to be a team that’s going to be unselfish. We’re going to play fast and smart in transition. We’re going to try to get easy baskets. We’re going to try to play with great body language. We’re going to be a respectful team that respects the flag and the National Anthem. All those things from culture is what we’re about. It’s who we’re going to be.”
Davis is replacing the all-time winningest coach in Ole Miss history, Andy Kennedy, who spent 12 years in Oxford and stepped down in February.
“Knowing that we had a head start in the process, we were able to assess the entire landscape, speak to basketball experts across the country, determine who would be the best fit for Ole Miss Basketball,” Ole Miss Athletic Director Ross Bjork said. “Every time we turned around, the answer was consistent and as a matter of fact, Kermit Davis is the best coach, the best leader to take our program to the next level in the SEC and the NCAA.”
“When the search process began for a head basketball coach, I asked Ross to really find a coach who has three key traits,” Chancellor Jefferey Vitter said, “first of all, a proven track record of building a successful and a lasting program; second, has a real understanding of the basketball landscape of the Southeastern Conference; third, has the leadership ability to model the core values and the creed of this great flagship university, not to just the student-athletes but to all students.”
Everything pointed to coach Davis as the next leader for Ole Miss.
“So our analysis … what made him perfect for the job?” Bjork said. “Several things stood out above everyone else. His teams play hard, and they play together. They trust and they believe in their system. His style of play will travel. If you don’t know, it’s hard to win on the road, but his teams rebound, and they play defense. They possess a great culture of discipline, accountability. They get it done in the classroom. Despite being the last team left out of the tournament this year, he built an NCAA Tournament program at Middle Tennessee, not just a one-hit wonder who burst onto the scene. He built a program to last, and he’ll do the same thing here at Ole Miss.”

Adam Brown is the sports editor of HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at adam.brown@hottytoddy.com.

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