As Ole Miss’ 2021-22 men’s basketball campaign comes to a close, the program’s leadership is already shifting its focus to next season and beyond. The Rebels finished the slate with a 13-19 record, marking just their third losing season in the last 16 years.
“Coach Davis and I have had productive discussions this week, and while our team faced some unforeseen circumstances, we are both disappointed by this season’s results,” said Keith Carter, Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics. “Kermit has enjoyed tremendous success throughout his career and understands what it takes to win at a high level. He has presented to me a plan to regain the momentum that took our program to the NCAA Tournament just a few years ago. Additionally, we are committed to providing him support and resources in order to make the changes necessary to compete for championships. We believe in Kermit’s vision for Ole Miss Basketball and look forward to seeing it translate to NCAA Tournament success.”
“Our players and staff are looking straight ahead with great enthusiasm to get Ole Miss Basketball back to NCAA Tournaments and our third postseason in five years,” said Rebel head coach Kermit Davis. “This past season was one of the most uniquely challenging years pertaining to injuries I have ever endured as a head coach. We have a great nucleus coming back with four of our top five scorers returning and getting Daeshun, Robert and Jarkel 100 percent healthy for the 2022-23 season. We will have a top-25 recruiting class with four high school players that will immediately impact our program, and we will attack the portal as aggressively as any team in America. I believe in our process but am not satisfied with our progress. And I assure you we will not be satisfied until we achieve what we have set out to do: win NCAA Tournament games.
“As a proud Mississippi native, I firmly believe there is no greater honor than wearing a jersey with Ole Miss on the front, and every day, I am so proud to coach these players.”
In his first season in 2018-19, Davis led the Rebels to their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2015 following one of the biggest turnaround seasons in the nation. Predicted to finish last in the SEC heading into his first year, Ole Miss exceeded expectations. The Rebels finished sixth in the conference before punching their NCAA ticket, while Davis collected SEC Coach of the Year honors along the way. He joined Rod Barnes in being the only Ole Miss coaches to lead the Rebels to the Big Dance in their first season guiding the program.
Davis’ squad narrowly missed the NCAA Tournament in 2020-21 and received an NIT bid. Despite being the final Power-5 team to start their season due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the program, the Rebels went on to lead the SEC in scoring defense (65.4 PPG), win 10 of their final 13 games and earn a No. 1 seed in the NIT. Ole Miss finished the season 3-0 against ranked teams, including two victories against top-10 squads, one of only four programs to go undefeated against ranked opponents throughout the year.
That winning streak against ranked teams extended into this past season, when the Rebels tied an overall program record with their fourth consecutive top-25 win after beating No. 18 Memphis. Ole Miss had an additional top-25 victory over No. 25 LSU, in addition to narrow defeats in hard-fought battles at No. 18 Tennessee (L, 66-60/OT), vs. No. 4 Auburn (L, 80-71) and at No. 6 Kentucky (L, 83-72). In total, the Rebels lost five games to NET top-50 teams by 10 or fewer points.
At 64 victories with the Rebels, Davis is one of only three coaches in Ole Miss history to rack up at least 60 wins over their first four seasons alongside Barnes and Andy Kennedy.
Davis has coached four all-conference players during his three seasons in Oxford, including a trio of First Team All-SEC guards. Devontae Shuler was the latest Rebel to finish his collegiate career with First Team All-SEC honors along with winning the Howell Trophy as the best men’s basketball player in the state of Mississippi in 2020-21. Prior to Shuler, Breein Tyree earned first team accolades in back-to-back seasons (2018-19, 2019-20). Tyree’s game blossomed in Davis’ system, ranking in the conference’s top-three in scoring as a junior (third, 17.9 PPG) and as a senior (second, 19.7 PPG). Current Sacramento King Terence Davis also found success under his new head coach as a senior (2018-19) before becoming the first Rebel in more than a decade to play in the NBA.
Davis has also taken Ole Miss to new heights in recruiting, signing the two highest ranked recruits in program history. Matthew Murrell broke the record as part of the 2020 class, and 2021 Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year Daeshun Ruffin stayed in his home state and became a Rebel. Ruffin also was the first McDonald’s All-American to sign with the Rebels out of high school. Both cracked the top 40 nationally when they signed to continue their careers at Ole Miss.