Abernethy already looks forward to August

Ole Miss men's basketball went through a transition of major proportions in March as head coach Rod Barnes was replaced with Andy Kennedy. Since then, assistants have been added, recruits have been signed, and veteran players have adjusted and continue to do so.

Baseball's still on the minds of most. And, as usual, football's on the minds of all.

It's June and even the start of basketball practice is still nearly four months away. Some of the players are in town now, while others have gone home for a few weeks. Some will leave after first semester of summer school and not return until August for fall classes.

The transition from former staff to current staff has been smooth, but it doesn't appear to have been overly rushed. What do I mean by that? Coach Andy Kennedy and his staff have done what appears to be a solid job of getting things set up for the long haul here. No panic about now or next season; just methodical, well-thought-out movement toward the future.

After Kennedy was announced at a press conference in Tad Smith Coliseum the last week of March, the new Rebel head coach put together his new staff over the next few weeks and also got to know the players here. The staff also signed three new players for the upcoming season (high school players Rodney Jones and Andy Ogide, and juco transfer Kenny Williams).

The coaches implemented an offseason workout program as they moved through the transition. This summer has been reserved for players to be able to take classes and workout, help with camps here, and also spend some time at home with their families.

But come August, things will heat up, literally, as the Rebels look toward the new school year and their preseason workouts and conditioning.

One player who has been in Oxford this month is Todd Abernethy. The senior guard was helping with one of the kids' camps last week, and I caught up with him at the coliseum.

Todd recently returned from a 10-day trip to Brazil playing basketball and ministering. The trip was sponsored by Sports Reach of Lexington, Ky., and included several Southeastern Conference basketball players.

"Our purpose was two-fold," said the Carmel, Ind., native. "We played basketball games and we shared Christ with the people."

Abernethy said his team won all the games they played during the trip. They also got in some sightseeing in places like Forta Leza, Belem, and Sao Paulo.

"It was a neat thing to be able to bond with the other players from the SEC," said Abernethy, who mentioned that Bobby Perry of Kentucky, Lee Humphrey of Florida, Derrick Byers of Vanderbilt, and Steve Newman and Billy Humphrey both of Georgia were among those on the trip. "It was an experience I'm very happy to have been a part of."

Abernethy will remain in Oxford for a few days and then go home to Indiana for the month of July. Todd's father, Tom, owns and runs a "basketball academy" in the Indianapolis area, and Todd will again do one of the things he loves and does best – help kids through basketball.

"I'll enjoy that," he said. "I'll help coach the kids and also work out and train to get ready to come back here for school."

Abernethy said he and the rest of his Rebel teammates are looking forward to August.

"My attitude, especially for us three seniors, is that we don't want to leave here with any regrets," he said. "I know the rest of the seniors (Bam Doyne, Clarence Sanders) feel that way, too."

Abernethy said Kennedy and his staff have already made sure to point everybody in the right direction.

"We're on the same page and we're already excited about the season," Abernethy said. "It's been a fun atmosphere (this spring) and everybody's really upbeat. I think we can do some good things this season, and we (seniors) definitely want to go out winners."

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