Earlier this week, Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy took his undefeated Rebels squad to Knoxville and opened their conference season with a showdown with SEC favorite Tennessee. The Rebels started this week as one of six undefeated teams in the nation, but unfortunately fell from the ranks of the unbeaten with an 85-83 loss to the Volunteers.
However, Ole Miss did win another kind of game this week when they received a commitment from talented 6-5 SF Murphy Holloway (Irmo, S.C.), an ESPN 150 recruit and one of the top unsigned prospects in the Class of 2008.
Holloway has very good athleticism and scoring ability, which makes him a prototypical small forward for the next level. He has a very consistent shot from the perimeter, especially in the mid-range area, and attacks the rim very efficiently. Holloway has the skills and speed to wreak havoc in the open court. He also uses his athleticism and leaping ability to rebound the basketball and block shots.
Holloway becomes the second ESPN 150 prospect to select Ole Miss, joining 6-9 PF Terrance Henry (Monroe, La.). Overall, Kennedy currently has five players in his 2008 recruiting haul, and with none of them hailing from the state of Mississippi, Kennedy has shown that he can go into other parts of SEC Country and gain quality recruits. The 2007 SEC Coach of the Year has managed to parlay last season's unexpected success into victories on the hardwood and on the recruiting trail this season. After leaving Cincinnati to become the head coach at Ole Miss, this Mississippi native's success has proven that sometimes you can go home again.
Troubled prospects pose tough decisions for recruiters
Former Top 150 prospect 6-4 PG Bud Mackey has enrolled at Harmony Community School in Cincinnati. The explosive guard and former Indiana pledge has not played this season after his September arrest for trafficking in a controlled substance within 1,000 yards of a school and first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance (cocaine), first offense, in his native Kentucky. With charges still pending, Mackey could make his debut as early as Saturday. Many top-notch programs remain interested in Mackey despite his legal woes.
Earlier this week, super-junior prospect 6-5 PG Lance Stephenson (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and a teammate became involved in an incident that left Stephenson with a cut eye and the teammate with an injured hand. Though neither Stephenson nor his teammate will face any legal charges, Lincoln High School has suspended Stephenson for five days and he will miss two games due to the altercation.
As coverage of these talented prospects increases, colleges face an increased amount of scrutiny when they recruit and ultimately sign prospects with checkered pasts. Sometimes the school cannot reconcile the amount of negative publicity that signing a talented, but troubled recruit will generate and decide against offering a scholarship to that player.
Head over Heels on the recruiting trail
North Carolina coach Roy Williams has the top team in the country on the court, and now his recruiting expertise continues to deliver great results off the court for him and Tar Heels fans. Williams started the week off with a bang when he received verbal commitments from the 6-9 Wear twins, both hailing from California and two of the top 2009 power forward prospects in the country. As noted by ESPN's Joel Francisco, Williams again demonstrated his recruiting range by going into California and nabbing talent recruits. Travis and David Wear will join fellow Double Pump AAU running mate and California native Larry Drew in Chapel Hill.
Williams and UNC kept the momentum rolling this week when top 2010 prospect 6-5 SF Reggie Bullock (Kinston, N.C.) decided that he would don the Carolina Blue. Williams has great explosion and athleticism while shooting the ball very well from the perimeter. Bullock's commitment comes on the Heels (pun intended) of North Carolina receiving a verbal pledge last week from highly-skilled 6-9 PF John Henson (Round Rock, Texas).
Williams, faced with the prospect of losing players early to the NBA almost every year, undoubtedly knows that he has to continue to stock the shelves with quality talent. With the recent commits selecting UNC expect Williams and the Tar Heels to continue to roll in the future.
6-7 SF Nate Miles (Lenoir, N.C.) has received a score high enough on the ACT to qualify for college eligibility and will reportedly graduate from The Patterson School next week. Now Miles has to make it through the NCAA Clearinghouse and if he does, he will enroll at Connecticut for the second semester and join the basketball team.
Miles will give the Huskies another perimeter threat from the wing with great range on his jump shot. The Patterson School dismissed Miles from the team earlier this season due to academic issues, which Miles has apparently corrected.
Antonio Williams is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. He previously worked as an NBA scout for Marty Blake Associates.