With the departure of former head coach Kermit Davis late into the 2022-23 campaign and interim head coach Win Case finishing out the season, Ole Miss hired head coach Chris Beard by early March.
The coaching change saw exits from multiple key Rebel contributors including former top-100 prospect Daeshun Ruffin, Myles Burns, new Georgia Tech transfer Amaree Abram, and more.
In the wake of so much roster turnover, Beard has been able to overhaul this Ole Miss program and will improve on last season’s 13th place SEC finish despite some question marks.
After initially declaring for the NBA Draft and entering the transfer portal respectively, leading scorers Matthew Murrell and Jaemyn Brakefield return for their senior seasons.
With both re-secured, Beard hit the transfer portal and from the power-6 level brought over LSU/Georgetown transfer Brandon Murray, Auburn transfer Allen Flanigan, OK State transfer Moussa Cisse, and former Arizona State guard Austin Nunez.
Both Murray and Cisse continue to wait on approval from the NCAA’s eligibility waiver process, but would be starters within Beard’s rotation should they receive a waiver at some point this season.
Flanigan provides the Rebels with a 6-foot-6 guard to pair alongside Murrell, as somebody who can not only manage 10+ PPG but also creates defensive mismatches for opponents with his size and athleticism.
A former top-100 prospect, Nunez made just two starts for the Sun Devils this past season but offers a lot to the development of this program under Beard and his staff.
Add to this group one of the nation’s top shot blockers in 7-foot-5 Western Kentucky transfer Jamarion Sharp and an NCAA Tournament experienced guard in Saint Peter’s transfer Jaylen Murray, and the Rebels have some veteran leadership.
For Nunez, Sharp, and Murray, the biggest discussion will be how well their talent translates to the SEC and if they contribute effectively as conference play approaches.
Nonetheless, behind players like Sharp, Flanigan, and even Murrell, the Rebels will be defensively stout and are going to cause problems for conference opposition given their interior size and fast paced guards.
Beard is undoubtedly talented as a head coach and can get this Ole Miss program back on the track to success in the SEC. Murray and Cisse’s presence on the court could be critical in year-one of the Beard era in Oxford, but he’s already got this program trending in the right direction.