Ole Miss has not exactly been a powerhouse in the SEC lately and likely will not challenge Kentucky, Missouri or Florida for a league title, but the Rebels will vie for their first NCAA Tournament appearance in more than a decade. Head coach Andy Kennedy has a couple of new faces via transfer and two of the league's best seniors to lead his squad in 2012-13.
Let's start with the returning talent. The headlines go to not just two of the most versatile players in the conference, but in the country: Reginald Buckner and Murphy Holloway.
Offensively challenged, these two forwards can lock down frontcourt opponents on D and crash the boards. Buckner, a 6'9" center, averaged 8.1 rebounds and 2.2 blocks last season despite playing just 27 minutes a game (foul trouble often kept him on the bench). In SEC play, Buckner had just five double-digit scoring games, often taking five shots or less from the floor, a role he will have to grow into as an athletic post-threat.
Murphy Holloway, a 6'7" ball of muscle at 240 pounds is physical and aggressive, and is the team's top returning scorer and rebounder at 11.2 points and 9.0 boards per game. He chips in with 1.6 steals and a little less than a block per game, athletically-limited by his wide-shouldered frame.
Adding depth up front is 6'8" JuCo transfer, Jason Carter, a former Alabama Crimson Tide forward before making his way to Junior College. He averaged 15 points and eight rebounds last season before suffering a knee injury.
In the backcourt, Ole Miss brings back sophomore Jarvis Summers, who led SEC freshmen in 3-point percentage last season with a .436 mark. Earning minutes as a transfer is Junior College Player of the Year, Marshall Henderson, a 6'2" combo-guard who averaged 19 points by way of 41 percent 3-point accuracy and a 91 percent mark from the foul line.
Practice starts in just a few days so chemistry and veteran leadership for Ole Miss will be crucial in returning to SEC relevance.