The Kermit Davis era in Oxford has officially begun.
Yesterday in front of fans, players, and former players, athletic Director Ross Bjork and Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter welcomed Davis in as the 22nd head coach in Ole Miss basketball history.
The hiring of a new coach is not the headline that Ole Miss wanted to make during the NCAA tournament, and Bjork said that the vision for the Rebel program should be focused on making it back to the “Big Dance” on a consistent basis.
“When I did interviews with our friends in the media down here on press row, I talked about that our vision was to be a consistent NCAA Tournament team who would compete for championships, wake up on Selection Sunday, where are we going? Not if, but where,” Bjork said. “My thought was, if we can’t visualize success, we don’t believe, then who will? So, it was important that we sought a leader whose vision aligns with ours, a coach who sees the grand potential of Rebel Basketball, someone who is not afraid to embrace this opportunity, find ways to capitalize on the resources that are here in place.”
Bjork went on to outline the characteristics he searched for in a new coach and said that Davis checked off every box and quickly became the obvious choice for the job.
“It was important that we found someone who could live up to a high standard that we have set for this job,” he said. “First a proven winner. Second, someone who possesses a program identity. Third, a recruiting machine. Then player development. Next, interpersonal relationships with today’s student-athletes is a must. Then someone who is committed to academics, disciplined, organized, they had passion, leadership and integrity.”
Watch the full introduction courtesy, curtosy of Ole Miss Sports Productions.
Davis’ arrival comes in the wake of a 12-20 season as the Rebels aim to re-establish relevancy both in the SEC and nationally. In his 18 years at Middle Tennessee, Davis was able to bring the mid-major to three NCAA tournaments including an upset over #3 seeded Michigan State in 2016. The new head coach says that they were able to find success because he knew what their brand represented, and now it’s time to find an identity at Ole Miss.
“What is Ole Miss Basketball going to look like? It’s going to be relentless, athletic, explosive, a team that’s going to have to play on and on and on to beat,” Davis explained. “It’s going to be a team that’s going to be unselfish. We’re going to play fast and smart in transition. We’re going to try to get easy baskets. We’re going to try to play with great body language. We’re going to be a respectful team that respects the flag and the National Anthem. All those things from culture is what we’re about. It’s who we’re going to be.”
Davis also called on fans to fill the seats as he hits the road to recruit players and said that nothing builds a national brand better than fans. He also emphasized his Mississippi roots as a Leakesville native and a former Mississippi State basketball player. He drew a large reaction from the crowd when he discussed taking down the Rebels’ in-state rival.
“I promise you this, there’s a lot of great Ole Miss people in this room, but nobody wants to beat Mississippi State’s tail more than Kermit Davis. I guarantee you that.”
Davis is adding Ronnie Hamilton and Win Case off of his Middle Tennessee staff, and he stated he will begin a search for a third assistant. He also said that there is talent on the roster, but the recruiting process begins immediately.
“We know exactly what we think Ole Miss needs to be successful in this system of play. I just think with this product to sell, we’re going to get good players.”
Davis fills the shoes and the stylish jackets of Andy Kennedy, who served as the head coach for the past 12 seasons and left as the program’s all-time winningest head coach.