Summer School

Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy didn't dramatically turn over his roster following the 2011-12 season. His core remains intact, including four returning starters.

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* This is the first in a series with Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy. Additional stories to follow over the coming days.

Still, six newcomers are on campus. Not a small number by any stretch. And now coaches are allowed summer instruction, even if the new rule, put into action by the NCAA in January, took longer than it should have. (Ten years, to be exact.)

Three signees -- Jason Carter, Martavious Newby and Terry Brutus -- enrolled in classes in June and went through the first summer session. All the while, they were instructed by Kennedy and staff for two hours each week.

"All three have brought an element we were lacking from last year's club," Kennedy said. "Newby's a kid that at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, is really a 6-3 version of Murphy Holloway. He's always around the ball. He makes game-changing plays. He's multi-dimensional in his ability to do a number of different things.

"Jason Carter brings a different element to our front line in that he's a stretch four. Here's a kid that's a little over 6-8, about 225 pounds. He's a good athlete, but his ability to pick and pop and knock down perimeter jump shots is something we did not have on our front line last year. And then Terry Brutus has really been a pleasant surprise. He's got an unbelievable attitude, and the kid is a man-child at 6-foot-6, about 245 pounds. Can run, can jump. Extremely explosive."

Marshall Henderson and Derrick Millinghaus arrived on campus this week for the second summer term. "I'm excited to get my hands on Marshall Henderson and Derrick Millinghaus," Kennedy said.

Murphy Holloway
Associated Press

Anthony Perez-Cortesia is all that's left, though he won't join the team until the fall. He's working out with the Venezuelan national team in his native Venezuela.

"I've been really pleased with the way the guys have worked in the strength and conditioning element," Kennedy said. "This has been the first summer we've been able to get on the floor with our new guys and start doing some stuff in an individual capacity.

"So, I've been real pleased with how the guys have responded. We felt like we had some needs that needed to be met as it related to our personnel. We feel good about the pieces we've added."

Ole Miss finished 20-14 last season. The Rebels lost to Illinois State in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.

But how their season ended and their final record only tells part of the story. After a late-February loss to Tennessee, the Rebels reeled off five-straight wins, including a overtime victory over the Volunteers in the SEC Tournament.

Yes, Ole Miss again missed the NCAA tournament. A loss to eventual SEC Tournament champion Vanderbilt was partly to blame. But Kennedy feels his team learned what it takes to be a tourney team -- the effort, the attitude, etc. It starts with returning veterans Nick Williams, Murphy Holloway and Reggie Buckner.

"Nick's been tremendous," he said. "Both he and Murphy are fifth-year guys who've been through the wars. They know what's expected; they know what they need to do. They're both realistic in the fact that, hey, these are things that I need to work on, and both have really taken that charge this summer."

Buckner missed the first summer term. He's back in Oxford for the second summer session. Holloway was a counselor for the Amar'e Stoudemire Basketball Academy, an elite skills camp for the top-ranked high school forwards in the country.

Along with his acting duties as a counselor, Holloway was able to go through workouts led by an assortment of NBA personnel.

"That was a great motivation for him to get in really good shape, so he's really been hitting it hard this summer trying to prepare himself to have a special senior year," Kennedy said. "I really anticipate him doing just that."

Not to be forgotten is Jarvis Summers, who played in all 34 games last season, starting the final 30 at point guard.

Jarvis Summers
Bruce Newman

Summers, as well as Ladarius "Snoop" White and forwards Demarco Cox and Aaron Jones, will again be relied upon heavily in an ever-important seventh year for Kennedy.

"Jarvis, Snoop, you'd be amazed. Sometimes you forget these guys are kids. I've always said you see the greatest improvement between year one and year two, and we're seeing that physically in both Jarvis and Snoop," Kennedy said.

"They've both gained weight. They've both packed on about 10 pounds of muscle. They look good. They're stronger. They've had a very workmanlike approach to the off-season."

Kennedy said Cox is down to "about 276 pounds now. He looks really good physically." The same can be said for Jones, who hasn't yet turned 19-years-old. He's added an inch of height and gained about 12 pounds.

"(Cox) is continuing to make the steps we need him to make. We saw a huge jump in his production in year two and now that's he's a junior in our program, we really think he's going to have a presence along our front line," Kennedy said. "And then Aaron Jones. We really feel like what you saw at the end of last year, when he had an opportunity to get into some games, his ability to block shots, his ability to be a live wire on the offensive glass, I think he's going to have an impact on our front line, as well."

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