After Kermit Davis was able to get current Ole Miss freshman Shon Robinson to re-classify to the 2019 class, the 2020 class was empty and it appeared that the Rebels were only going to focus on bringing in one dude.
Then Jaemyn Brakefield was offered by Duke and he committed shortly after.
But, then the proverbial basketball recruiting tires were kicked on a former target from the Bluff City and the response from the metaphorical rubber was resounding.
And now, Ole Miss has its highest-rated commit since Reginald Buckner in 2009(!) now that four-star shooting guard Matthew Murrell has announced his verbal commitment to the Rebels.
The IMG Academy senior by way of Whitehaven High School in Memphis was heavily pursued by Auburn, Florida, Texas, and Vanderbilt, among others, but chose to stay close to his hometown and play for the Rebels.
The nation’s No. 45 player prepped at Whitehaven for his first three years before departing for Bradenton, Fla. There, he helped the Tigers to a AAA state semifinal appearance last season, losing to eventual state champion Bearden. On the AAU circuit, he averaged 15.2 points, two rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game as a member of Team Thad (Tenn.) out of Memphis.
Let’s rewind a bit for recruiting perspective, shall we?
The Commodores and new head coach Jerry Stackhouse hired Faragi Phillips in the off season. Phillips, being Murrell’s high school coach in Memphis, was seemingly hired to secure a national letter of intent signature from Matthew to join the Dores and to literally anchor down.
Then, it appeared that Florida was jumping into the chase, utilizing their close proximity to IMG Academy and the need for Mike White to get a point guard. Then, the Gators received a commitment from four-star Niels Lane, the No. 85 overall player in the 2020 class.
After his official visit to Oxford, Murrell took an official to Austin, Tex. to meet with Shaka Smart and the Longhorns. As you know, Smart and Texas haven’t exactly been lighting the world on fire lately in the Big 12 and he has yet to get a 2020 commitment from a guard. So it seemed like a good spot for him as opposed to in the red and blue, right? Wrong!
And lastly, Auburn got back in the picture despite having commitments from two guards, one being the No. 18 player in the country in Shariffe Cooper. And the Rebs were able to dodge this green hornet, too.
All that said, this is a monumental recruiting win for Davis and his staff. Murrell was a nationally-coveted prospect and is a top-50 player. This sort of get is something that has not existed in the Velvet Ditch.
As mentioned above, Ole Miss was leaning towards not taking anyone in the 2020 class after Robinson re-classified and Brakefield committed to Duke. But, taking Murrell is going to pay dividends immediately. Breein Tyree departs after this season and Devontae Shuler might consider leaving early. Sure, Jarkel Joiner is on the roster and will be eligible next season, but it’s always nice to welcome in a player that is the No. 9 shooting guard in the country.
I asked Rivals’ national basketball recruiting analyst Corey Evans about how he sees Murrell at the next level and he seems to like his game quite a bit.
At 6’4, 190-pounds, that scouting report should be music to everyone’s ears. He is only going to add more to an already Power 5-ready frame and should thrive in Kermit’s system on both ends of the floor due to his athleticism and length.