Kennedy talks about hoops newcomers

For Ole Miss men's basketball, offseason conditioning and individual workouts are always important. Perhaps that's the case moreso this year than other years. Having eight newcomers will do that.

David Huertas is included as one of the eight, and the transfer from Florida who sat out last season will play this season. But whether it's seven or eight that you count, that's still a lot of new players for a program that has only twice that many on its roster total.

So far, Andy Kennedy has been pleased.

"The offseason is going well," said the second-year Rebel head coach. "Jake Scharnhorst, our strength coach, is really, really good. I trust him and he's been getting really, really good results. We're a bigger team this year. I think we'll be a more physical team. I think we'll be a stronger team. We're certainly going to be a more athletic team."

Kennedy said the coaches have gotten to know the new players much better over the past few weeks since workouts started. He says it's been a good start to the 2007-08 school year.

"We have the individual instructions, which is groups of four or less players for two hours a week. So on Tuesdays and Thursdays we get our guys together for an hour. We really spend time on individual development. That is really helpful for us to see the kids and what they know and areas that need improving. It gives you an opportunity to spend time with them as all our staff is involved in that. We've gotten a much better feel for the strengths and weaknesses of our personnel. We've gotten a better feel for the competitive nature, and I've been really pleased with what we've seen so far."

Here's a brief comment from Kennedy on each newcomer.

"Chris Warren is 5-10 and about 165 pounds. Chris is extremely fast with the ball. He is a very good shooter out at the 3-point range. He has a good understanding of the game. He has a toughness to him.

"Trevor Gaskins is 6-foot-2, 205 pounds. Physically very gifted. He's a power guard. He's left-handed and I think left-handed players have a natural advantage in our sport. He shoots the ball better than advertised. He's a physically tough kid.

"David Huertas is 6-5, 200 pounds. A versatile scorer. Can score in a variety of ways. He's a crafty player. He can get to the offensive glass. He's a position defender. Very knowledgeable. Very, very competitive. An extremely hard worker.

"Zach Graham is 6-5 on his way to 6-6. Weighs about 225. Really physically strong. He's a slasher, gets it at the basket, has the ability to finish in traffic. Great kid. Hard worker. Really has an opportunity to do some special things in his time here as well.

"Kevin Cantinol is 6-foot-10 and 250 on his way to 265. He has a 7'-3" wing span. Really impressed with him. It's helped him to go against our other big men every day who are already here. He's more than held his own. He's a tremendous kid who is going to have a fantastic career here.

"Malcolm White is 6-9, and arrived at 206 pounds. In three weeks he was at 218 pounds. He's got the physical ability to impact the game from day one. He's got a 7'-2" wing span. We've got seven guys on our team with over a 7-foot wing span. He's a quick jumper. He immediately impacts the game on the defensive end.

"Wesley Jones is 6-7 about 210 pounds. He was the junior college player of the year in the state of Mississippi. Got a lot of physical ability and he's got an innate ability to score with the ball. Again, we feel he's a guy that can help us at both forward slots.

"Terrence Watson is 6-5, 220, with a 7'-2" wing span. He plays much bigger than his size. We feel he will have a real impact defensively. His skill level and his ability to make plays off the dribble really separate him from any other forward in our program. He's a winner and led his team to a junior college national championship."

More hoops in the days and weeks ahead. Tipoff for the regular season is Sat., Nov. 10, when Mississippi Valley State comes to Oxford.

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