The 6-foot-9, 250-pounder has been a player projected to replace the big men lost from last season. But Cranston showed in his first public display that he might be more valuable in some ways than the former players.
One guy obviously can't make up for three who left after their eligibilities were up – Dwayne Curtis, Kenny Williams, and Jermey Parnell. And that's not what he is being asked to do.
But Cranston can play underneath the basket, appears to be able to drive and make something happen, and can shoot the 3. He made two treys in the Rebs' 115-81 exhibition win last Friday.
The junior from Orlando and Daytona Beach Community College scored 16 points in 17 minutes of action to lead the Rebels in the scoring department. He was 5-of-8 from the floor including 2-of-3 from 3-point range and was 4-of-5 from the free throw line.
He had four rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots, and just one turnover. It may have been Division II UNA he and his teammates were facing, but that was an impressive start for a player who the Rebels are counting on for some big things this season.
"I just want to help my team out," said the Evans High School product. "They're going to need me to contribute, and I'm doing whatever I can to contribute."
Cranston is a strong presence on the court. He joins 6-10, 250, Kevin Cantinol, a redshirt freshman, as the truly "big" guys of the team. But 6-9, 220-pound Malcolm White brings some experience to the court as well, having played seven minutes a game as a freshman last season.
Cranston says they are all meshing, and he is adjusting to the newness of play in Division I.
"This is a whole other level of fast," Cranston said. "So I'm trying to adjust to it."
He knows offense isn't the only area where he must be productive.
"Like rebounding. We all rebound," Cranston said. "That's a point of emphasis in practice. We work on it every day, and we're going to get even better at it."
Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said Cranston should be a strong contributor for the Rebels this season.
"A lot has been made of the fact that we lost some wide bodies block to block," Kennedy said. "I think he can give us some of those same qualities. He's a below the rim guy. He's an angles scorer much like DC was. The difference is he can extend out. Him making 3-pointers is not something that is surprising. He was 2-for-3 from there tonight. We encourage him to do that, because it will really help our spacing. He gives us a body and a presence, and he has to understand more the angles and the pace of the game. But he can do some things offensively that we haven't been able to do in the past."
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From Joey Jones - UM athletics media relations:
Ole Miss sophomore point guard Chris Warren has been named a first-team selection on the fifth annual men's basketball coaches preseason All-SEC teams, the Southeastern Conference office has announced.
The honor is yet another on Warren's growing list of preseason recognition, which includes a preseason All-SEC second team selection by the media, as well as numerous spots on preseason magazine lists for top players in the SEC and top point guards in the country. This summer, Warren was one of 11 of the country's top floor generals to participate in Nike's Steve Nash Skills Academy.
Thirty-two different players received votes for the coaches preseason All-SEC teams. LSU and Tennessee led all schools with three selections each, while Kentucky's Patrick Patterson and Vanderbilt's A.J. Ogilvy were the only unanimous first-team selections.
Cranston gives Rebs inside/outside presence
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