Torrey Ward was an all-star player at UAB when Andy Kennedy was an assistant coach there. Ward is hoping to help bring in and develop all-star players at Ole Miss now.
"I'm extremely excited to be at Ole Miss," Ward said. "It's a great opportunity for me to work at a program of this level and to work for a very good coach in Andy Kennedy. I'm ecstatic to be a part of this great staff. There are not a lot of 27-year-old assistants in the SEC. It's a great opportunity and I'm excited to be here."
Hired by Kennedy this spring, Ward has ties with other staffers as well. He spent the last three seasons on the Jacksonville State staff and coached alongside current Ole Miss assistant Michael White during the 2003-04 campaign. After gaining experience as a volunteer coach that year, Ward served as an assistant coach for JSU the past two seasons.
Before entering the coaching ranks, Ward played professionally in the Chinese Basketball Association for the Shanghai Sharks, where he was a teammate of the NBA's Yao Ming.
At UAB, Ward competed in 110 games with 74 starts and scored almost 800 points during his four years seasons (1997-2000). He was voted as the Conference USA Runner-up Defensive Player of the Year to Kenyon Martin of Cincinnati and earned C-USA Player of the Week honors three times.
Ward and his wife Charmaine, of Birmingham, have a daughter, Tara Lynn.
Ward said when he heard Kennedy got the Ole Miss job he was hoping for the opportunity to join him.
"I ran into him at the Final Four and spoke to him briefly there," Ward said. "I had a good feeling about it. He keeps in close contact with his former players, so I had talked to him some while he was still at UAB and also at Cincinnati."
Ward said the assistants will follow the lead of their head coach. And he knows they have a good leader in Kennedy.
"He brings a lot of energy to the program," Ward said. "He's very likeable, very knowledgeable. He was a good player and a lot of kids like to play for a coach that can relate to them and let them know what they are up against. For me he was always the guy who kept me motivated but at the same time let me know what I was doing wrong. He just brings a lot of positive energy."
Ward said the staff has meshed from the start.
"I don't think there's another staff in the country that has the bond that we all have. It's a great atmosphere with everybody getting along and on the same page. I've seen that from day one, and I know it will continue."
That Kennedy was successful at Cincinnati during last year's trying times was no surprise to Ward.
"Knowing him, he wouldn't let them believe anything but that they could be successful," Ward said. "So I'm not surprised by that. That was a pretty good showing to get those guys to play the way they did."
But Ward knew how Kennedy would handle things from first-hand experience.
"I learned from him how to better relate to the players, to know what they're going through and help them. I also learned about going on the road and recruiting and talking with families. I learned a lot from him and hope to use that to our advantage here."
Ward said coming to Ole Miss is a tremendous opportunity he plans to make the most of as the Rebel program rises.
"It's a beautiful campus," he said. "I'm very pleased with the opportunity. I'm ecstatic to be here and working to accomplish great things here."
Ward looks forward to helping UM win again
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