Matthew Murrell, Ole Miss Rebels

After an abysmal end to the Kermit Davis era, the Ole Miss Rebels hired Chris Beard who has immediately revamped the roster with talent.


As is tradition, CBB Review is again ranking the top 100 teams heading into the new college basketball season. Each day, we will reveal the next team until we reach the team slotted at number one. Follow along with #CBBRank on all our social media channels.

After making the NCAA Tournament in his first season, former Ole Miss Rebels head coach Kermit Davis never seemed to live up to his full potential with sustained success. In his last two seasons at the helm, the Rebels won just seven combined conference games, making it apparent that it was time to move on.

The Chris Beard hire was controversial, given the off-the-court reasons he was dismissed from Texas last season. Regardless of how any of us feel in that respect, Beard’s basketball resume speaks for itself. In his eight seasons as the head man, seven of which he coached in the Big 12, he has a combined 173-71 (.701) record, which includes a National Championship game appearance.

Given Beard’s pedigree, and the quality of transfers that are entering the program, it is fair to expect Ole Miss to make a major leap this season. Of course, the expectations cannot be too high in year one of a rebuild, though.

Click here to learn more about our preseason top 100 teams heading into the 2023-24 college basketball season.

Head coach: Chris Beard (9th season, 1st at Ole Miss)

2022-23 record: 12-21 (3-15)

2023 postseason finish: No postseason

Notable departures: Daeshun Ruffin (Transferred to Jacksonville State), Myles Burns (Graduated), Jayveous McKinnis (Graduated)

Notable non-conference games: vs. NC State (Nov. 28), vs. Memphis (Dec. 2), at UCF (Dec. 10), vs. Cal (Dec. 16)

Projected Rotation

PG: Matthew Murrell (6-4, 200, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 14.4 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.6 APG

SG: Brandon Murray (6-5, 214, Jr.)

2022-23 stats: 13.7 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.2 APG (Georgetown)

SF: Allen Flanigan (6-5, 195, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 10.1 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.5 APG (Auburn)

PF: Jaemyn Brakefield (6-8, 216, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 11.1 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.7 APG

C: Moussa Cisse (6-10, 220, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 6.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 0.6 APG (Oklahoma State)

6: Jamarion Sharp (7-5, 225, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 7.4 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 0.2 APG (Western Kentucky)

7: TJ Caldwell (6-4, 190, So.)

2022-23 stats: 4.7 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 1.2 APG

8: Austin Nunez (6-2, 170, S0.)

2022-23 stats: 4.5 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 0.9 APG (Arizona State)

Ole Miss Rebels MVP: Matthew Murrell

Of the several guards that are expected to play a significant role on this Ole Miss Rebels roster, returning leading scorer Matthew Murrell stands out. Expect Murrell and Brandon Murray to be interchangeable pieces at the one and two spots.

While Murrell does not dominate in any particular facet, he is a well-rounded offensive player. He is efficient in creating his own shot and utilizing the mid-range. Murrell also has the ability to get to the rim consistently, whether it’s through the dribble drive or as an off-ball cutter. Shooting nearly 90% from the foul line is critical for this type of player.

On top of that, Murrell will often take on the opposing team’s best ball-handler and thrives as an on-ball defender. His 6-8 wingspan and quickness allow him to be aggressive on that end and recover if the opponent gains a step.

Expect Murell’s NBA stock to continue to rise with another productive season.

Ole Miss Rebels make-or-break player: Moussa Cisse

Cisse entered the college basketball landscape as a consensus top-15 recruit in his class and a top-tier NBA prospect. So far, with some time at Memphis, and two years at Oklahoma State, Cisse has translated his talent into a dominant defensive player, considered arguably the best rim protector in the country. The importance of this production can not be understated.

However, Cisse has yet to break out offensively. He is certainly mobile, which can be seen at times when he can score rolling to the basket or in transition. With that being said, Cisse needs to polish his finishing ability, especially considering he does not have a great post presence or much of an outside shot.

If he is able to become perhaps, a double-digit scorer, Ole Miss will be dangerous on both ends of the court.

Key analytic: Shot making

Shot Quality’s “shot-making” stat is purely the ability to knock down field goal attempts, independent of how favorable the shot was. “Shot selection” is the opposite.

Last season, Ole Miss was in the 79th percentile in shot selection but just the 22nd percentile in shot making. The basic conclusion you can draw is that while the coaching was fine, the talent was not quite there.

This team’s outlook appears to be rather similar, and that is the major concern about 2023-24 Rebels. The three-point shooting looks especially shaky throughout the roster (must be a Mississippi school thing). This only makes Cisse’s offensive breakout that much more critical.

Projected conference finish: 10th in the SEC

Projected postseason ceiling: NCAA Tournament – Sweet 16

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