Sebastian Saiz/Petre Thomas

Ole Miss senior forward Sebastian Saiz has added a 3-point shot to his game

Ole Miss forward Sebastian Saiz has increased his scoring output in each of his previous three seasons, and he’s well-positioned to bring even more as a senior.

 

And that includes some 3-point shooting.

The 6-foot-9, 240-pound Saiz enters his final year as a Rebel with 599 career rebounds and nine career double-doubles. He’s the second leading returning rebounder in the SEC from a year ago.

But all anyone can seem to talk about in the preseason is a new tool he’s added to his toolbox — a consistent 3-point shot.

“That’s definitely a real thing,” senior guard Rasheed Brooks said. “That’s definitely a real thing, for sure. He was doing it last year, he just kind of got away from it when the season started. I don’t know if was a confidence thing, but this year it’s definitely real.”

Saiz posted eight double-doubles last season. He averaged 11.7 points and 8.73 rebounds, but his contributions from distance were minimal, if nonexistent. Saiz made 2 of 10 attempts. 

Petre Thomas

He didn’t attempt a 3 in 18 of the 26 games he participated in, including each of the last six games. But don’t expect more of the same in his senior season. Saiz is armed and ready, and he has the blessing of his head coach to boot.

“He’ll be a guy that we’ll let shoot,” Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said. “I’ve seen him make a lot, but he has to make them when you’re there (in the game), or he’s going to be reprimanded back to the post. 

“He’s worked hard on that. I think it’s given us another dimension. His strength has gotten better. He’s always had a good sense of urgency. Focus has always been a bit of an issue when we talk about comparisons. When we talk about comparisons, I compare him to a collie. I'm a dog guy. He is like a big ol’ collie. He comes bounding in and happy to see you and knocks you over. He licks you. That's Sebastian. Sebastian is a big ol’ Collie. I want to put him in a position to be successful. He wants to be successful. He’s great for me because I’m not a big sunshine pumper. He is. He always sees the bright side of everything, so it makes our relationship stronger.”

But regardless if Saiz takes four 3s or 40, in the end, he wants to do what’s best for the team and what Kennedy asks of him. Among his many goals, he has his sights set on All-SEC, a distinction Kennedy has longed sought for a player he describes as one of his favorites among those he's coached.

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“I think this is the best team we’ve had in the four years I’ve been here,” Saiz said. “I’m really excited. We all play together, we all contribute. It’s not a one-man show. We all score, we’re all different, we all rebound. We’ve got a bunch of people doing a bunch of jobs.”

Ole Miss finished 20-14 a year ago, its season ending in the SEC Tournament, marking just the second time in 11 seasons under Kennedy Ole Miss has missed out on the postseason altogether. 

Saiz was vocal in his disgust with the March result when speaking with reporters in the bowels of Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., afterwards, and he continues to use the loss as motivation. The Rebels have reached the NCAA Tournament twice in the last four seasons.

He’s determined to get back.

“I was pissed. I like to win, and I like going to the postseason,” Saiz said. “I’ve made one postseason in three years. I was pissed about it. We’re going down fighting. I don’t care what we’ve got to do. If we’re going down, we’re going to bring down someone else with us.”


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