Ole Miss added five players to its roster this off-season, including guard Stefan Moody, who on…
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He acted quickly to fill one vacancy, hiring former Auburn assistant Tony Madlock, a Memphis, Tenn., native, whose addition has already paid off with the commitment of Southwest (Tenn.) Community College guard Rasheed Brooks, one of the top junior college players in the country.
"Tony has been a tremendous addition," Kennedy said Monday on the SEC teleconference. "He's a Memphian. He played at Memphis, grew up in the area. And he's certainly very, very familiar with the SEC having been with Tony (Barbee) the last four years at Auburn.
"He's been great. He's brought a new focus and a new energy. I'm really pleased to have him as a part of our staff."
But as the calendar flips to July, Kennedy is still no closer to rounding out his coaching staff with a third member. He's not concerned, though. The plan all along was to take his time.
"I'm really in no rush to fill that in as it is," he said. "My focus has been on (the team). Now that the NCAA has allowed us to have our hands on the guys during the summer, it's been great for me to get to know these new guys and see our returners continue to mature and grow as they get more experience in the program."
Kennedy's roster is significantly different from last season.
Five players – guards Roderick Lawrence, Stefan Moody and Terence Smith and forwards Marcanvis Hymon and M.J. Rhett – were added, while four others, including leading scorer Marshall Henderson, are gone.
Derrick Millinghaus transferred to Southeastern Louisiana, Demarco Cox will spend his final season at Georgia Tech and Jerron Martin left for South Plains Junior College.
Janari Joesaar was the last out the door. He's signed with Texas Pan-American, according to Kennedy, and his departure has moved Ole Miss closer to the 13-player scholarship limit.
"It's really a different dynamic," Kennedy said of the turnover. "I've never done this before. We brought in two fifth-year guys in Terence Smith from UT-Martin and M.J. Rhett from Tennessee State. That, coupled with the three returning seniors who have matriculated through our system in Jarvis (Summers), Snoop (White) and (Aaron Jones), gives us five seniors.
"And when you talk about Anthony Perez and Martavious Newby, who are going to be juniors this year, along with Terry Brutus, who is in his third year, even though he will be a redshirt sophomore because he's coming off an ACL injury last year, and you couple that with Stefan Moody from Kilgore and Rod Lawrence from South Plains, 10 of our 13 guys will be juniors or seniors in the program. From an experience standpoint, we've never been as experienced. With that, we hope comes a real focus and sense of urgency that you like to see out of upperclassmen."
The new-look Rebels will have to get on the same page quickly. Ole Miss is scheduled to participate in the Summer of Thunder event in Nassau, Bahamas August 3-8.
The Rebels join Kentucky, Ohio State, North Carolina and others as participating teams in the tournament.
"I'm looking forward to the chance to put together a semblance of a team so that we can go over and play some outside competition with the new guys that I'm anticipating making a huge impact on our program," Kennedy said.
"It will give us a chance to see what they're able to do and start formulating an identity as it relates to how we want to play. More than anything, it's integrating the new guys and making sure the older guys understand their roles. It's a matter of putting a team together and seeing how we can formulate our identity."
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