Rebs' front line should be a team strength

In a story on here late last week, Andy Kennedy introduced us to the newcomers with some tidbits about each. Some important returnees must also step up if the team is to match or surpass last season's success. Look no further than the big men.

Dwayne Curtis, although still healing and rehabbing yet another broken bone in his foot from late August, will bring a lot of experience to the Rebels' front court. Jermey Parnell is set to have his best season yet, while Kenny Williams enters year two of his Ole Miss career with more confidence because of playing time in year one.

Andy Kennedy will have to depend on his experienced front line, especially early, if the Rebels are to get off to a much-needed fast start.

But those aren't the only guys he can count on in the post and at the power forward spots. A trio of newcomers could make the Ole Miss front court quite a force in the powerful SEC.

"We didn't lose anybody on our front line," said Kennedy, entering season two with the Rebel program. "Dwayne Curtis, Jermey Parnell, and Kenny Williams logged the most minutes there. You add to that group Malcolm White, Kevin Cantinol, and Terrence Watson, and you certainly feel like you've helped yourself. You've got experience, you've got size, you've got depth, and you've helped yourself from an athletic standpoint."

The veteran big guys agree with their head coach that this team should be strong in the paint and under the basket. And they are being instructed to do whatever it takes to be the best they can be come opening day on Nov. 10.

Take Parnell, for example. The veteran senior is in the best shape of his Ole Miss life, but he's worked hard to get there.

"He (AK) wants us to average 100 points," Parnell said of the Rebels. "In order for us to do that, the big men have to run like the guards and play like the guards."

That meant conditioning and training unmatched so far in his young life for Parnell, whose body looks nothing like it did just a couple of years ago, even at the end of last season. He said he's at 245 pounds now, and when the season ended in March, just six months ago, the 6-foot-8 Parnell said he weighed 267.

"I conditioned, I changed my diet, and I changed the meat I ate," said Parnell, who averaged five points and four rebounds a game last year. "I eat turkey now and a lot of it, instead of beef, and I eat a lot of baked chicken. Stay away from fried foods."

Parnell says it's all about being the leaders these three seniors, along with fellow senior guard Brian Smith, have to be this season.

"The guards, Todd, Bam, and Clarence, had to lead last year," Parnell said. "Now it's time for the big guys to step up. We know what we have to do. We've got a lot of experience, and we've got a lot of young guards. They'll look to us because we've been here."

Parnell says the key to the last time around for him is to continue to do what his coach says.

"I'm on my way out," the Gosnell, Ark., product said. "I've enjoyed my time here, and I want to go out with a bang. I experienced winning last year for the first time in a long time, and I want to do that again. We've got depth and a lot of young talent. AK's a great leader. Follow him and we can do anything."

In the days ahead, we'll hear from Dwayne and Kenny on their last basketball seasons at Ole Miss.

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