Making Moves

Last month, Ole Miss men's basketball coach Andy Kennedy gathered with local media and all but promised significant changes to his program.

He kept his word Monday.

Kennedy announced the hiring of Al Pinkins to his coaching staff and the promotion of director of basketball operations Bill Armstrong to an assistant coach position this afternoon. The return of Murphy Holloway, after a month's worth of speculation, was also confirmed through an official school release.

Pinkins has spent the past eight seasons as an assistant at Middle Tennessee State. Among his responsibilities, Pinkins was responsible for recruiting Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia, and developing the Blue Raider post players.

Al Pinkins
"We are excited to announce that Al has joined our staff," Kennedy said in the release. "He comes highly recommended. From recruiting to the development of our post players, Al will be an immediate asset to our program."

Armstrong returns to the bench after serving five years as Kennedy's coordinator of operations. Armstrong -- a former four-year letterman and graduate assistant at UAB -- spent three years as an assistant at Birmingham-Southern.

"I have known Bill for over 20 years and seen his continued development as a coach," Kennedy said in the release. "As our operations director over the past five seasons, Bill has been my ‘right-hand man.' He deserves this opportunity."

Kennedy also announced the signing of Holloway, who was granted a release from South Carolina in late March.

Holloway, a South Carolina native, played two seasons for Ole Miss before opting to transfer to South Carolina due to family issues back home. Holloway cited the need to return home to care for his then 6-month-old daughter. However, he wasn't granted a release to South Carolina or Clemson -- his preferred schools -- at his time of transfer.

Holloway ultimately walked on at South Carolina. He was forced to sit out due to NCAA transfer rules. The 6-foot-7, 234-pound Holloway averaged 10.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in 2009-10, his sophomore year at Ole Miss. He started 30 of 34 games that year. His 259 total rebounds led the team by a wide margin.

In two seasons at Ole Miss, Holloway played in 65 games, 47 starts, and totaled 606 career points, 464 rebounds, 86 steals and 33 blocks.

"I like being here. It's a great place," Holloway said prior to transferring. "Unfortunately, my family called and they need me. Since my little girl was born, (my family) has always thought I might need to come home. But this was the place I thought I could succeed from. I wanted to stick it out."

Holloway will seek to play immediately. To do so, Holloway will have to apply and be granted waivers by both the NCAA and Southeastern Conference. NCAA transfer rules stipulate a player must sit out a year, while the SEC mandates a player cannot transfer from one conference school to another without two years or more of eligibility remaining, which Holloway qualifies for.

If Holloway has to sit out a year, it would count against his remaining eligibility. Ole Miss feels it has a strong case. According to sources close to the situation, the best case scenario is Holloway would be allowed two years to play two. The worst case resolution is one year to play one.

"When Murph informed me of his need to go home and take care of his personal responsibilities last year, I supported the decision," Kennedy said in the release. "When he then asked me to come back and join the program after his family situation had improved, I welcomed him back with open arms. We look forward to seeing him back in an Ole Miss uniform."

Murphy Holloway
Associated Press
The flurry of basketball activity Monday didn't end there. Sources confirmed that guards Trevor Gaskins and Will Bogan won't be returning to the program, and have opted to transfer elsewhere to continue their respective careers. Bogan confirmed the news via text message. Multiple attempts to reach Gaskins have proven unsuccessful.

The departures of Bogan and Gaskins are no surprise. When asked if he anticipated roster changes in late March, Kennedy answered simply. "Yes," he said, without delving into specifics.

Ole Miss added four players to its roster in the early signing period -- guards Jarvis Summer and Ladarius White and combo players Jamal Jones and Aaron Jones. Guard Jelan Kendrick, a former McDonald's All-American and five-star recruit, was signed in January after spending less than a year at Memphis.

"Everybody wants to win championships. I want to accomplish the same things. It's just hard work and determination. We have guys here that work hard. Hopefully I can be the missing piece to help this team reach levels it hasn't reached before," Kendrick said.

Ole Miss has targeted Maurice Aniefiok in the spring signing period. Aniefiok is a 6-foot-5 guard from Huntington Prep in Huntington, W.Va. Aniefiok visits Ole Miss this weekend. He holds offers from Ole Miss and Duquesne. Southern Cal and Indiana are involved in his recruitment, as well.

"If I think Ole Miss is a place I can enjoy and all that stuff -- get better, work on my game, have a chance to really play, step up and all that -- then I'll just make my decision right away," Aniefiok said in a previous interview with the Ole Miss Spirit.

"Ole Miss has really been showing me a lot of interest. They already have my attention, so I'm really focusing on Ole Miss big time right now."

Former Ole Miss assistant Torrey Ward is exploring other opportunities, per sources. His possible return ended with today's announcements. Assistant Owen Miller could be back, but is a candidate for the head coaching job at Gulfport High School, his hometown.

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