OXFORD – As Ole Miss basketball players reassemble and welcome new faces this month one important piece of last year’s NCAA Tournament team will be missed: Terence Davis.

Davis finished No. 12 on the school’s all-time scoring list and in the top 10 in steals, made 3-pointers and 3-point attempts.

His energy and athleticism helped him earn a free agent contract with the Toronto Raptors.

As the Rebels seek a return trip to the NCAAs in Kermit Davis’ second season as coach several key additions have helped create a buzz around this team.

Six-foot-10 junior college transfer Khadim Sy, who played at Virginia Tech as a freshman, is expected to bring athleticism missing in the post last season.

Sammy Hunter, 6-9, can be a stretch 4 to create matchup problems outside and can spell Sy in the post.

Davis has raved about the “basketball IQ” of Austin Crowley, a former West Point star, who developed his game at noted Kansas prep school Sunrise Christian Academy the last two years.

Even with the excitement of the newbies, Terence Davis’ absence leaves a void to fill.

“Man, that was my best friend. I came here on my visit him (Devontae Shuler) too, and that was the guy that kind of recruited me here. It’s kind of weird being here without him,” senior guard Breein Tyree said.

Davis, a small forward, averaged 15.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists as a senior last year.

For the last three years the Pavilion would stir when he got the ball in the open floor in anticipation of the dunk finish that was seconds away.

In replacing that production Kermit Davis says he’ll look first to his veteran guards – Tyree and Shuler – and not to new faces.

“It’s hard,” he said. “You have to look No. 1 at the veteran backcourt we have back. You hope to have that same Breein Tyree that made the jump from 10 points to 18 (as a junior). Devontae made a jump too. Both of those guys have to step up. It might not be production in points scored but in their leadership which has been better. It’s how they defend, how they share the ball. You’ve got to start there.”

The same scoring jump from his junior to senior season would have Tyree around 26 points a game.

He says he’s not focused on scoring.

“It’s play-making, maybe make my assists higher this year. My assist numbers were like 2.9 to 3, around that range. I’d like to bring it to at least five. With the addition of Dream (Sy) and a lot of other pieces to the team I think that will help me do that.”

Through summer play Davis worked himself from undrafted to an NBA contract.

That has caught Tyree’s attention.

“As you can see, he signed with the Raptors, and he’s doing great things. It’s motivation for me to see what he’s doing. It’s only going to help me and (Shuler) as we go into what we want to do at the end of this season.”

parrish.alford@journalinc.com

Twitter: @parrishalford

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