Spring Hoops

Matt Insell just finished year one at Ole Miss as head coach. He's signed six players for the future. Here's a look at each one, and some additional comments about Ole Miss women's basketball following that.

* Toree Thompson of Broken Arrow, Okla., named Miss Basketball in Oklahoma last week: "Torre's a left-handed point guard that can play the one or the two. Got great size, 5-10, and can really score the basketball. That's the thing that really stands out to me. In her state championship game, she scored six points in the last 20 seconds of the game for them to win. She can create off the bounce. She was a must sign for us with losing Valencia McFarland (to graduation)."

* A'Queen Hayes out of Horn Lake, Miss.: "She brings toughness and that's something we lacked a little bit defensively. She won the state championship at Horn Lake this year at 29-1. She can really play the point of our defense up guarding the basketball. She can get to the rim off the bounce. She's strong at finishing at the rim. She's an exceptional rebounder for a guard. She's 5-10 and will bring toughness to us on the perimeter. She took five or six charges in one game this year I saw her play."

* Shandricka Sessom from Byhalia: "She could be the most athletic player I've ever coached. She can take two steps and dunk the basketball. She has the ability to be very, very special. She has Armintie Price type athleticism. She brings athleticism you don't see very often. She can score many different ways. She can shoot the 3. She can rebound. She has long length on the perimeter defensively. She has a chance to be real special for us on the perimeter. Real excited about her. She fits our style, being able to run in transition offensively. She was a must sign. She won a dunk contest on a nine and a half foot goal with ease."

* Kiara Golden, 5-9, from Center Hill High School. "Her basketball genes are unbelievable. Her dad, LeMarcus Golden, played at Tennessee. Her uncle, Penny Hardaway, played at Memphis. Both played in the pros. She was a late bloomer that came onto the scene the last four or five months. A lot of people in the SEC jumped on her, and luckily she stayed close to home. She's a left-handed point guard that can play the one or the two. Similar to Toree, can really shoot, can get to the rim to use her length."

* Kelsey Briggs, 6-3 forward from Memphis: "She is a player that has great length and can really shoot the basketball from the perimeter. She can really go inside and post you up. She originally signed with Georgetown last year and was a top 30 player in the country. She went up there this past summer, went to school, and then at the end of the summer they let her know the NCAA de-certified a class. She went back and had to take that core class. In November, her scholarship was null and void with Georgetown and her recruitment reopened. Georgetown, Florida State, a bunch of schools tried to get her and we were lucky enough to keep her at home. She's very versatile and can play the three, four, or five. She's got great ball handling skills. She can post up. She can bring you out on the perimeter and then shoot the three; she can get by you. She's a player we desperately needed to add inside."

* Erika Sisk, Oxford High: "She played at Murray State two years ago and was freshman of the year in the OVC. I think she scored 32 points at Missouri. I had a chance to watch her when she was at Murray State and I was an assistant at Kentucky. She's good. A super athlete that can play in transition and do a lot of great things. She was putting up 20-25-30 points against high level competition. She called me and said she wanted to transfer back. We didn't have a scholarship. She's also an incredible track athlete and she ran track this year at Ole Miss. She's been in school here the whole year but she didn't do anything with us basketball-wise. She officially signed to play basketball yesterday and will be full time with us once track season ends. She will do both sports. In track she does all the jumps – high jump, long jump, triple jump. She's a heck of an athlete."

The Rebels could potentially sign another player or two. Two players left the program – Monique Jackson and Claudia Ortez.

The returning players are Tia Faleru, Danielle McCray, Gracie Frazell, Amber Singletary, Bretta Hart, Shequila Joseph.

And there were three seniors – Valencia McFarland, Diara Moore, and Kenyotta Jenkins.

* On what his team might play like with the new players: "There were some depth issues. We had good players coming off the bench, but we didn't have enough. We'd like to have two at every position, but we didn't have that option. They've worked so hard this postseason getting ready for next season. Offensively we'll look the same. Defensively it will be a total change. We were not able to do everything we wanted to in the full court in terms of trapping and things like that. Now with more athletes on the perimeter, that will allow us to do that. We have more options. We're about two-deep at every position. Now we can better play the way we want to defensively."

* On the self-imposed sanctions prior to the season (2012-13) before he arrived on the UM campus: "We're off the self-imposed. Unless (the NCAA) comes back in and says the self-imposed wasn't enough. They have not told us anything about it. In my eyes, we're back 100 percent, until they tell us differently. I don't expect them to tell us differently. I think our self-imposed was pretty hard. If they come back, we'll worry about it then."

* On the support he's received as Ole Miss head coach: "The support has been unbelievable. I couldn't ask for better support in terms of people in this community, people around this state, reaching out. We didn't win as many games as we wanted to win. We did make a lot of progress with our program. We were competitive. And we got better as the season went on."

* On scheduling next season: "It's going to be a little tougher. One thing is, we're playing my dad (the head coach at Middle Tennessee State; game is in Oxford). That's on a Sunday in November. He's all about getting crowd support, and I am too. Maybe that will bring some people out to watch that. Baylor is coming to Oxford, which will be huge and (the Bears) will be ranked in the Top 10 in the country again. We're starting a series with Western Kentucky. Southern Miss is going back on the schedule. They haven't been on the schedule in a while. That game will be here. We're going to Reno for a tournament. We'll start with Utah there. I think it's Oregon and Nevada-Reno on the other side. So we've got some good ones out of conference."


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