Drake transfer will be eligible to play for the Rebels in 2017

Drake transfer Dominik Olejniczak was in no hurry to make his next college decision. He only hoped to make the right choice.

And in Ole Miss, the 7-foot, 249-pound forward/center believes he’s found his home.

Olejniczak made his commitment to the Rebels Sunday night through his Instagram account, casting his lot with head coach Andy Kennedy and staff over other finalists Cal and Colorado. He will have three years to play three after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer rules.

“My last visit was California, and after just coming down with the week and getting my mind together, I just felt most comfortable (at Ole Miss),” he said. “The people I met, I felt most comfortable with my visit and coach Kennedy. It was my personal thing. After thinking over everything, I just wanted to be there. I loved my visit, I loved the program and I loved coach. It was just my personal feelings.”

Olejniczak spent the last week in his native Poland, weighing his options in search of the right fit. Ole Miss will lose its starting center, All-SEC senior Sebastian Saiz, following the 2016-17 season, opening up a clear lane to a starting position for Olejniczak once he’s eligible.

Olejniczak averaged 6.5 points and 4.1 rebounds in 16.4 minutes per game as a freshman for Drake last season. He shot 72.2 percent from the floor, and over his final nine games, he averaged 10.3 points.

“I didn’t want to transfer and just sit on the bench,” he said. “But what was more exciting is Sebastian Saiz is a really good player and I have to compete with him every practice next year. I’m going to work hard and I’m going to lift more and work more than any other guy on our team. He gives me a chance to compete vs. a really, really good player in the SEC every day. Then when he’s gone, I will be ready.”

Before signing with the Bulldogs in 2014, Olejniczak averaged 7.5 points and five rebounds per game at the U-18 Division A European Championships. Ole Miss had success with another Polish forward, Tomasz Gielo, last season, and Gielo was instrumental in the Rebels securing Olejniczak, who joins a fall and spring signing class that also includes New Mexico transfer point guard Cullen Neal, among others.

“He guaranteed me that (at Ole Miss) he felt like he was at home,” Olejniczak said of Gielo. “It was important for me to have that feeling because I’m far away from my home. I just really want to feel that when I’m going to be there. Tomasz told me coach (Kennedy) isn’t just going to tell you something on your visit to get you there and then you commit and that’s not going to happen. He said it’s not going to be that way. The coaches are honest with you, so I really liked that.”

Olejniczak visited Ole Miss last month after announcing his intention of leaving Drake on April 5.

“I know coach Kennedy has put in amazing work to build this program,” he said. “That was pretty important for me, too. I was in the Pavilion, and the atmosphere, I think, is going to be crazy. And I like that Oxford is the city where everything is about Ole Miss. There are other things, but everything is focused on Ole Miss. That’s really good. That should make for a really, really good home-court advantage in the brand-new arena.”

Ole Miss missed out on the postseason after posting a 20-12 record a year ago. The Rebels have reached the NCAA Tournament two out of the last four years, however, which Olejniczak cited as one of his many goals as he embarks on his Rebel career.

“I’m really excited,” he said. “I was so excited when I chose Ole Miss. It was a long process, but I’m glad it’s ended and I’m happy with the school I chose and I cannot wait to get to campus. I have a lot of things to do, and I know the coaches will take care of me. I’ll put in extra work, and they’ll really prepare me and try to work on my weaknesses because they know the best way to work on those to be ready for reaching my dreams — to play in the SEC, to go to the NCAA Tournament and ultimately go to the NBA Draft. I know the coaches will help me with that and prepare me as best as they can.”

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