The following excerpt comes from Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, the “bible” of college basketball now in its 32nd printing. Edited by SEC Digital Network contributor Chris Dortch, Blue Ribbon is a 400-page preview that features full stories on 345 Division I teams. To order a copy, go to www.blueribbonyearbookonline.com or call 877-807-4857.
Key returning player: Murphy Holloway (6-7, SR, F)
The odyssey of Murphy Holloway (11.2 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.6 spg, 0.6 bpg), is one of the more unusual tales in the college game the last few years. Holloway played, exceptionally given his youth, for two years at Ole Miss before transferring to South Carolina to be closer to his daughter. After practicing with the Gamecocks for a year, he decided he missed Oxford and transferred back to Ole Miss, where last season he was immediately eligible because he wasn’t on scholarship at South Carolina.
Perhaps Holloway would have helped save former South Carolina coach Darin Horn’s job, because he turned out to be Ole Miss’ most valuable player, leading the Rebels in rebounding (third in the SEC), steals and minutes played. Holloway’s worth to the team was underscored when he injured an ankle in a late-December loss to Middle Tennessee. Without Holloway, the Rebels lost by a point to the Blue Raiders and also lost two of their next three games, to Dayton and LSU.
A healthy Holloway might have made the difference in a couple of those losses, and who knows? That might have been enough to finally earn the Rebels an NCAA bid.
Holloway is on pace to become Ole Miss’ all-time leading rebounder. And if he can find a way to make more free throws - he shot .504 from the line last season - Holloway could close out his career as a 15-point, 10-rebound a game guy. There aren’t many of those in college hoops.
“Murphy has a real nose for the ball,” Kennedy said. “And even after being out of the program for a year, he came back and, save for that ankle injury, had a pretty seamless transition. He’s worked hard on being a more consistent 15- to 17-foot jump shooter. If he can get his free-throw percentage to the high 60s or low 70s, he’s going to be a load.”
Holloway has become so vital to what the Rebels do that Kennedy recruits with an eye toward finding more players just like him. Kennedy described two of his newcomers as Holloway like, and one of those is a guard.
Key Newcomer: Derrick Millinghaus (5-10, FR, G)
Derrick Millinghaus may remind Rebel fans of former guard Chris Warren, or even another SEC player of recent vintage that Kennedy coached during his one season as interim head coach at Cincinnati and then had to coach against after he transferred to South Carolina.
“He’s got a little Devan Downey burst [of quickness] to him,” Kennedy said. “He’s strong and quick and can score. Last year he made over 100 3s at 40 percent. And he can do some things in the open floor.”
Millinghaus comes with an extra season of experience, having spent a postgraduate season at Believe (N.C.) Academy, where in 2011-12 he averaged 28 points and shot 43 percent from behind the arc.