SEC Fresh Start: Jelan KendrickPosted by Brian Joyce on November 1st, 2011
The Fresh Start series will profile a new coach or eligible transfer who will make an impact in the Southeastern Conference this season. The next player in the series is Memphis Tiger transfer and new Ole Miss guard/forward, Jelan Kendrick.
Talk about needing a fresh start. Jelan Kendrick has no shortage of talent. He is the first McDonald’s All American to ever sign with Ole Miss. But along with those honors, he brings a lot of baggage with him to Oxford. Kendrick was kicked off the Memphis team last year before ever playing a game after he threatened a teammate. While he has the talent to make an immediate impact for the Rebels, can Kendrick get everything else in order to be productive?
Ole Miss is looking for a scorer to replace all-SEC star Chris Warren, and Kendrick could be the player to step up and help fill some of that void. Rebels coach Andy Kennedy is excited to see what Kendrick can do: “I’m anxious to see if he can come in and evolve into the player I think he’s potentially capable of. His greatest calling card is his versatility and ability to facilitate — not for himself but for others. He can play the one, and either one of our wings. His length and size give him the ability to defend multiple positions. I don’t want to get overly excited because the kid’s never played a second of college basketball, but we’ve seen him in practice and know what he’s capable of doing physically.”
Ole Miss has talent and experience returning. Senior Terrance Henry and junior Reginald Buckner give the Rebels a frontcourt that can compete with just about anyone in the SEC. The Rebels received good news when 6’7″ Murphy Holloway was cleared by the NCAA to play immediately giving Ole Miss instant scoring and rebounding help. But in the past, Andy Kennedy’s team just hasn’t been able to put it all together for a trip to the Big Dance. His squad has been to the NIT in four of the last five years. Could this year be any different or will Ole Miss fans have to endure more of the same? Kendrick could be the difference maker in getting the Rebels over the hump in the SEC (West).
There is certainly a lot to be excited about in Oxford this season. If things go well, Kendrick could be one of the most talented players ever to put on the Ole Miss uniform. But will he ever live up to the expectations? Ole Miss fans will have to wait until December before seeing him suit up, and like Memphis fans a year ago, Rebel fans will have to wait until then to see if his perceived talent matches his play on the court and whether it was worth getting excited over.