Out of the Box

Liberty transfer Tomasz Gielo isn’t much for metaphorical boxes. Or labels, for that matter.

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He’s read the scouting reports, of how some see him strictly as a “stretch four” or “pick-and-pop” player.

But the 6-foot-9, 220-pound Gielo, a native of Poland, believes he’s more than that. And he’s determined to prove as much next season at Ole Miss.

“As a player, most people think I’m a stretch four, but for the last three years at Liberty I got to play the three a lot,” he said. “I can bring the ball up and down the court. I think I’ve got pretty good ball-handling skills, and I can shoot the 3. I can do a lot of things.

“A lot of it is going to come down to what (Ole Miss head) coach (Andy) Kennedy sees and what options he has. Coming in from a smaller conference and trying to adjust to the SEC level, I know it’s not going to be easy. But I’m a hard worker. I’m going to be in the gym all year long. When it comes to my part, work hard and stay in shape and make sure I take advantage of my minutes.”

Gielo announced his decision to transfer to Ole Miss earlier this week, choosing the Rebels over a number of other schools, most notably Boise State, Kansas State, Marquette and Nevada.

He considered Ole Miss, however, “the right fit.” He visited two schools, Ole Miss and Boise State, before deciding.

“Visiting Ole Miss, I knew it was the right place,” he said. “They have a need for a forward who can shoot 3s. That’s what coach Kennedy said he was looking for, and that’s what I can provide.”

Ole Miss graduated two of its top front-court pieces from a team that finished 21-13 and made its second NCAA tournament appearance in the last three seasons. The Rebels view Gielo as an ideal replacement for departed forward M.J. Rhett, who like Gielo was a one-year graduate transfer.

Rhett started 31 of 34 games for Ole Miss in his one and only season, averaging 7.4 points and 4.6 rebounds.

“I got to talk to him,” Gielo said of his relationship with Rhett. “We exchanged phone numbers and we got to text a little bit. He just talked about how much of an impact the staff and Ole Miss had on his life. He just said that if he could go back, it’d be a no-brainer to pick Ole Miss again. I think that helped me make the right decision.

“I was ready for that process. There was a coaching change at Liberty, and the time for me was up here. Going into the process, I knew what to expect. I knew I could play, I just wanted to be around coaches I know can help me be successful. Coach Kennedy and this staff are about winning and getting better. I’m a hard worker. I feel like I fit into that system well and I can help that team a lot.”

Gielo appeared in all of seven games for the Flames last season after suffering a stress fracture in his foot, though he averaged 11 points and six rebounds as a junior. He knocked down better than 40 percent of his 3-point attempts over the past two seasons.

He’s eligible to play immediately.

“Going into your final year, especially when you’re a fifth-year senior, you definitely look to make a big impact on every game,” he said. “Coming into Ole Miss, I’m not giving myself any specific numbers or goals or anything like that. But I definitely want to be a key piece to a winning program, and I know we can win. I’m really thankful for the opportunity coach Kennedy gave me. Hopefully we can make a run this year.”

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