Polynice ready to help even more in year two

Eniel Polynice was a true rookie for the Rebels last year. Now he's not only a veteran but a leader on a team with half its roster made up of newcomers.

Polynice has already taken it upon himself to lead vocally and by example in year two.

"I just tell them every day to work hard day by day and keep improving," said the Sarasota, Fla., native. "That will help them now and later in life to get where they want to get. Just keep improving day by day and play hard."

Words of wisdom from one so young. The 19-year-old has already done some positive things this preaseason, according to Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy.

"He's more mature. He's still just a sophomore, and sometimes I have to remind myself of that," Kennedy said. "He was a kid that played valuable minutes for us last year. Now we're counting on him to take on a different role. We have asked him to help these new guys go through what he went through last year. So his approach has continued to develop, as has his body. He's a stronger, bigger kid now. His confidence is at another level than last year."

Polynice said the Rebels got some valuable experience at Middle Tennessee last Sunday, and now they hope to step up even more against Delta State in an exhibition game at Tad Smith Coliseum today at 7 p.m.

"We basically went up there and ran a lot of our plays, making sure everybody knows what they are doing," he said. "We wanted to make sure everybody knew the sets, make sure our defense is OK and that we're ready for Friday night. We take every game seriously, so we went up there to get better."

Last season Polynice played in all 34 games with eight starts. He scored a career-high 15 points including 4-for-4 from 3-point range in the Rebels' 85-77 victory in Oxford over New Orleans.

In his first collegiate start at Vanderbilt, he scored 10 points with five rebounds in a season-high 30 minutes of action. He had 11 points against LSU in the SEC Tournament, an 80-60 UM win.

Southern Cal, North Carolina State, and Oklahoma were among his final choices. He chose Ole Miss and wants to help the Rebels get to the NCAA tourney again, which would be the first time since 2002 for the program to do so.

"I need to step up on both defense and offense," the 6-foot-5, 216-pounder said, "and help this team get to the NCAA Tournament."

In year one he helped Ole Miss get to the NIT and a 21-13 final record.

"Last year helped me a lot. It helped me overcome the little stuff and get ready for this year. I know better what to do so I can step up."

He feels the same for the team.

"I believe we've got more offensive weapons. Everybody on the team can help out. We've got more depth this year. When we get tired we can bring in more fresh bodies. So I think we'll be a lot better."

The process of getting better every day continues tonight, and Polynice is ready.

"Preseason practice has been good," he said. "We've just been working hard, getting ready for the season. Hopefully we'll put on a good show Friday night."

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