White brings some experience to the post

Sophomore Malcolm White knew he'd be called upon to lead the inside guys for Rebel basketball this season. Like any competitor, it's what he wanted.

Last year, his first in a Rebel hoops uniform, the 6-foot-9 center was able to feel his way into the mix. He was playing behind veteran big men Dwayne Curtis, Kenny Williams, and Jermey Parnell.

It was obvious his playing time would be limited for that reason alone. But still he averaged seven minutes a game during the Rebels' 24-win run to the NIT Final Four in New York.

"I'm the only returning big coming back, and they're expecting me to lead the new guys," said White, rarely at a loss for words and always willing to talk about his game or the Rebels' next game.

Then he starts rolling off the names of the new inside guys. Players like Murphy Holloway, Terrance Henry, Kevin Cantinol, and DeAundre Cranston. Only Cantinol was at Ole Miss last year, and he was redshirted. Cranston came in from a junior college and has some collegiate experience on his side.

White has spent a lot of time and effort preparing for this season.

"I've worked hard on my post game, my jump shot, so I'm ready to make plays," he said.

And not only offensively either.

"Defense has really been my main focus," said White, making a statement most players in their early years of college make while trying to grasp the understanding of just how much effort is called for and the emphasis that is placed on preventing the opposition from scoring. "That has to be my main focus – defense."

He has also logged a considerable amount of time getting stronger, which is what the wars of the Southeastern Conference and Division I collegiate basketball require.

"Spent a lot of time in the weight room," said the 220-pounder. "Getting a little bigger, a little stronger. I was 211 but I've gained like 10 pounds or so, up to 220 or 221."

Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy, his team at UAB this weekend for a closed exhibition game against the Blazers, said White has taken on the important leadership role a veteran must take in order for his team to succeed.

"Mac," as Kennedy calls him, "has the most experience of anybody on our front line. He's been here a while now. He understands the demands of things. He has a better feel of the opportunity that's presented to him. He sees that if he does not take the reins and provide leadership, then I don't know where we would get it along our front line.

"He's been tremendous," Kennedy continued. "His attitude has been great. His energy has been good. He has a much better understanding of what we're doing."

The Rebels open the new season officially Friday night when they host Arkansas State at 7 p.m. in C.M. "Tad" Smith Coliseum. ASU has a new head coach - former LSU head coach John Brady.

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