By Austin Miller
Two years removed from the NCAA Tournament, head Ole Miss head men’s basketball coach Andy Kennedy will have one of his most experienced teams with nine juniors and seniors, but it’s also a new-look team with five newcomers, including two post-graduate transfers and junior college transfers.
Among them is Terence Smith, a three-year starter and a career 1,000-point scorer at UT-Martin, who transfers to Ole Miss with one year to play after leading the Skyhawks last season at 14.6 points per game as a junior.
“I’m a fifth-year senior, so I bring a lot of experience to the team and know what to expect,” Smith said. “We have been working and getting after it to get better. We have been hanging out a lot and getting to know each other better. I have been around a lot of good players and they have pushed me to get better.”
When he stepped on campus this summer, there was one familiar face for Smith: Tennessee State transfer M.J. Rhett, who led the Ohio Valley Conference and ranked eighth in the nation with 14 double-doubles, as he averaged 10.9 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Both Smith and Rhett come from the OVC and are motivated to help lead the Rebels to a return trip to the NCAA Tournament.
“We’re both upperclassmen and came from the same conference,” Smith said. “Ole Miss had a bunch of good pieces from last year and most of them are coming back. We bring experience and are trying to get Ole Miss back over the hump and make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.”
The 6-foot-4, 195-pound guard from Russellville, Alabama, joins a crowded backcourt, led by senior Jarvis Summer, an All-SEC second team selection and the league’s second-leading returning scorer (17.3 ppg). The Rebels also return senior LaDarius White and junior Martavious Newby and add two junior college transfers in Stefan Moody and Roderick Lawrence.
Smith expects to play on the wing and take on the role of a 3-point shooter. A career 40 percent 3-point shooter (101-253), Smith ranked third in the OVC.
in 3-point field goal percentage (.438) last season, hitting 60 of 137 attempts. He also added 3.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.0 steal per outing with a near 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
“There’s going to be a lot of excitement and depth to this team,” Smith said. “Everybody has a different game. When you put us all out there at one time, it’s going to be hard for the defense to just focus on one player. We’re going to have a lot of penetration and kicks and mismatches.”