"He's the only one who's got his papers in. In fact, I'm excited to have Solomon Bozeman, first of all. I've known him since he was, probably, five years old. I think the thing he's going to bring to our team this season, he's a point guard. He's been around the game, he understands basketball, and knows what it takes to compete on this level. Because he's been around guys all the time, and I think he's a guy who can bring a lot to our program. A lot of times guys look for main guys. Guys who could immediately help you. I think he can definitely do that, but he is a program guy. He's a guy that understands already what we're doing on the offense and defense. He understands, because of his father, who has really pushed him. He's one of those guys I look forward to coaching. He made a move to Magnolia over in Arkansas, where he has gotten bigger and stronger since he's been there, and I think that's what he needed most. Strength. I had a chance to go by about a month ago to watch him work out, and I was really impressed."
Question: Work Ethic? Talent?
Barnes: "Again I think he needs to get bigger
and stronger. And, he's doing that. We won't have another player, I think, that
will work as hard as he will. But he's probably the first guy that we've signed
that, actually coming out of a place or coming to our program that will probably
know as much as anybody else that I have ever coached. And, he won't be a typical
freshman, I don't think, as far as making any adjustment to the college level.
Because, again, he's been around it so long, or being able to understand how much
work it takes. Obviously speed of the guys, the strength of the guys, the size
of the guys may effect him early on. But he'll understand the six o'clock workouts,
because he's worked out like that, and he'll understand ball practices, and he'll
understand there is no off season. So, that's why I'm so excited, because it's
not many times that you find a kid who'll works like that, but they might not
know your program. They might not understand what you're doing. Another thing
is, sometimes it takes a while for guys to adjust to the coach. That adjustment
won't be there for him because he's been around me for many years. Not just around
me being in the gym, but around me seeing me work. And, also, I've been really
personal with him in helping him to develop some. I'm excited about that.
Well; we'll have another signee in the next couple of days."
Question: "Going into this season, What were the needs that you saw and do you feel like you've met them?
Barnes: "Yeah, I feel like we've met the need. First of all, we've got Todd Abernathy that's nearly at the end of his career. When you think about after this season. So, we wanted to get a point guard in our program. So we felt like, with that, signing Solomon was a really good thing. We've got justice served somewhere. In the past, early on, we had a lot of success, we were deep at point guard: Michael White, Jason Harrison, and Jason Flanagan. Then Jason Harrison and Jason Flanagan. And then all of a sudden Harrison graduated and went with young guards, which we didn't have the depth because Trey Pearson transferred and now you got Todd Abernathy. We're playing young guards, freshman that haven't been around the program or in the league. I knew that as a coach. It happened to me, and I said it'd never happen again. To me, you have to have three guys that can play point-guard position. If you can get them on your basketball team. So, I think that was a need, for us to have another guard. Because, even next season Todd can play off-guard if necessary. He and Justin are definitely big enough to play off-guard. But, we needed a young point guard in our system that could learn the system. Playing around some other guys that are probably going to play more than he'll play. I don't ever want to be at a point again where I'm playing this league and the guy that's running our team, it's his first year. You may get a junior college point guard that you may feel might be an All American, or something. I don't just want to be adding a junior college point guard to my program starting for us. So, that's why we addressed that. We've got another need that we're going to address, as far as continuing to beef up our athleticism and size. After that, we're just going to go through the season. We won't stop recruiting. I think more than anything I've learned over the years is that you can't stop doing that. We'll probably have potential recruiting now as we did earlier. We've just got early commitments and we stayed with those guys and felt like it was good to get those guys. But, we're still actively involved with some kids. We probably won't offer to sign someone because we don't have a scholarship, but we definitely are involved with some kids on a daily basis."
Question: Will it be any different this year only having a couple of scholarships at your disposal?
Barnes: "We'll have scholarships available, but we probably were involved with a lot more kids. But, we feel like, with the kids we've got, we address the needs. We'll have a lot of guys returning. One thing about kids now, they want to go to a place where they feel like they can immediately start. A lot of kids that do that know that they can immediately play. We haven't been through the season, that why we continue to recruit. There are some thing that we do know about our team, but there are some things we don't know about. So, it hasn't been any different as far as us working, but it's been different as far as planning kids in for visits and that kind of work. Our work has basically been more for the future. Trying to get a foundation and get involved with some kids, because we're going to lose some kids over the next couple of years and we need to replace them. We feel like, especially with a guy like Todd, getting Solomon in and giving him a year to get here and work with Justin and Todd. We've made a replacement there over tomorrow and the next day we'll have another guy come in when we lose a guy that can really replace him."
Question: "Last year, you set the foundation. This year and next year you can just add pieces?
Barnes: "That's exactly right. Last year we went for position, size, depth we signed so many kids because we felt like we needed immediate help. We were for laying the foundation. And, laying that foundation this year, you get more into the right guy that's going to give you that little edge or bring something a little bit different. One thing about it, Solomon can do a little bit of everything. He shoots it well, he handles it well, he passes it well. Again, he has decent size for a point guard, but he's not a big guy. Again, we felt like knowing the game, we felt like moving our team to the next stage where we needed knowledge of the game. We also wanted to sign someone that it would not be just totally new for him. He'll come in and the first time he's here, he'll understand when I start talking about V-cutting, backdoor, curl, and a tight-cut. He understands all of that. So, he'll fit in right from the beginning. He won't give me that look like a few of the guys are giving me right now like, "Coach what are you talking about?" What I'm saying is that you need to be closed, and this is the outside, and rotation. He already understands all of that. We felt like that would be good for us, because again, not knowing, at this particular point, whether we're going to play Todd as an off-guard or not. But, again, it helps us with Justin being here. Solomon is kind of doing the same thing. So even if Todd wasn't here next year, we've actually got a guy who's been in our program for a year. As you said we feel like we've got a great foundation and now we can add some pieces to it. We won't know, actually, if there will be another need or the experience will be the thing he gives us this year to kind of go through. Like I said, we have not stopped recruiting because we feel like there could be a possibility but then again we don't want to make to early of a commitment because we may get a pick up like Dewayne Curtis or Justin Cerasoli. You don't want to get to fast.
Question: How has that changed your philosophy in the last two years, picking up transfers like DeWayne and Justin Cerasoli;..has that kind of changed your thinking for the Spring period? Will you now save a scholarship for the summer period instead of using them up in the Spring?
Barnes: "Well, the thing that changed my thinking is, first of all, when you feel pretty comfortable with the guys that you've got playing, when you don't save them is when you know you need help. I feel like with Todd Abernathy, I don't know if we could have signed a freshman that would have absolutely beat him out. So, you save for that position. You don't save a good scorer. You don't save good players because you take that guy because he's a guy that can come right in and start for you. This coming year, we'll be full right now but, in case something happens you want to be there. We feel good with Solomon, either one of those guys could come right into our program and play. They might not start, but they'll play. Now, if something happens we'll see what happens. We could have a scholarship and may not use it. We could have a scholarship and get a transfer in June, like what we did this year. If something happens to one of our guys whether homesickness, or hurt, or decided to transfer we would wait to see. Because we feel like, again, we've got bases that are covered. Todd Abernathy being a point could play for two. Justin Cerasoli being a point, Solomon is able to play both positions inside with Dewayne and Jeremy Parnell. So, we're just waiting to see if we would happen to lose one of the guys we have now for some particular reason. We would probably wait because we feel like we're talented enough and we'll be experienced enough, after this year to wait on someone. If Todd was a new player this year, I probably wouldn't have waited for Justin Cerasoli. I probably would have taken a chance finding another point guard. But knowing that Todd is experienced enough to handle it. We always try to be. And, I think with Justin Cerasoli we couldn't have gotten a better take. It has changed. Lots of it has changed for me.
Question: How has getting rid of the 5 for 8 rule changed your philosophy and the philosophy of your peers?
"Well, I think one thing, an ATR, which no one can explain, so don't ask
me to do that; Getting rid of the five in April took anything from the coaches.
It took any kind of power we had because the kids understand. So they're going
to act any kind of way, do any kind of thing and they think, "Well, he can't
get rid of us because if all three of us go out and we party all night and coach
kicks all three of us off, what's going to happen? He can't replace us."
So I thought it took a lot away from the coaches, especially guys who depend on
the business like this. The other thing is the five in April came when a lot of
my guys were veterans. So, all of a sudden, if the guy isn't good enough, you
can't replace him. If a guy is not what you think he needs to be you can't replace
him. If a guy is not acting the way he should act you really don't want to replace
him because you could get yourself in a position like some coaches did that went
on and took chances and got rid of guys. Now they've got nine guys on scholarship.
You can't compete at this level on a consistent basis with those kind of numbers.
So, now I think it helps a program like ours because, all of a sudden, we can
sign seven guys. It doesn't take four years to replenish or rebuild. You can put
yourself right back in a great position. If we would have had the five in April
this year, I could have only signed four players;tight situation. But, being
able to sign as many players as we did, now you get a chance to set your foundation
and get your sights ahead for the future. Not only are you going to address needs
now but needs for the future.
The Ole Miss Rebel basketball team picked up its first signee of the early signing period Wednesday, receiving a national letter of intent from Solomon Bozeman, a 6-foot-1, 165-pound guard. Bozeman will attend Ole Miss beginning in the 2006-07 academic year.
The son of former Rebel assistant coach Eric Bozeman, Solomon was the Oxford Eagle Player of the Year in 2005, when he scored 25.1 points per game as a junior at Oxford High School. Bozeman also averaged 6.6 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game while shooting 53 percent from the field and 39 percent from three-point range. He was named to the Bob Gibbon's All-Tournament Team each of the last two years and earned District MVP honors a year ago.
"I'm excited to have Solomon Bozeman coming here," said Rebel head coach Rod Barnes. "I've known him since he was probably five years old. He grew up around the game and knows what it takes to compete at this level. Because of his father, he already understands what we're doing on offense and defense. I look forward to coaching him."
Bozeman will finish his prep career this season at Magnolia High School in Magnolia, Ark., where his father is the head coach at Southern Arkansas. Eric Bozeman accepted the head position at SAU in May after seven years on Barnes' Ole Miss staff.