OXFORD The cafeteria on any college campus is a place for chatter as much as nourishment.

For Win Case, it wasn’t a place to sit at a small table in the corner with other Middle Tennessee assistant coaches and game plan. There was time for that in the office.

The world’s too big to chat with just a few people.

“Win Case is one of those guys that he’d walk out on the Murfreesboro campus at Middle Tennessee, and everybody knew him. Everybody,” Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said. “He takes time with everybody, it doesn’t matter. On campus, I’d go in the cafeteria and Win would know everybody in the cafeteria.

He’s just one of those guys. He’s always taking time with people.”

After a highly-successful career as a head coach at the NAIA level, Case is in his 12th season as an assistant to Davis.

He was in the mix to become head coach at Middle Tennessee in 2018 after Davis announced he was leaving for Ole Miss.

While Middle’s search was on-going Case had to make a quick decision and after prayer and discussion with family chose to remain with Davis.

“I just decided at the last moment that it would probably be better for me to move on to the SEC. Obviously that excited me,” he said.

In new surroundings Case’s outgoing personality helped him win over new people and acclimate quickly.

It’s also helped him bring talent into the program, most recently four-star guard Matthew Murrell of Memphis, who will join the roster with high expectations in the fall.

Murrell, listed at 6-4, 190 pounds, is ranked the No. 38 overall player, the No. 8 shooting guard, on the 247Sports.com composite list.

Davis doesn’t limit Ole Miss assistants geographically, but each has his own wheelhouse so to speak. Case’s areas of emphasis are Memphis and Mississippi. Knowing everybody in the room is important.

“You can have people skills, but if you don’t work hard it won’t get you anything but beat,” Davis said. “Win can connect not only with the recruit but everybody that surrounds a recruit.”

Davis had not reached the postseason at Middle Tennessee when Case joined the Blue Raiders for the 2008-2009 season. Three years later Middle Tennessee began a run of postseason in six of seven seasons, three of those the NCAA Tournament.

When Davis was looking for an assistant coach in 2008 he called Kansas coach Bill Self. He’d heard of Case and knew that Self and Case were acquaintances since high school and college teammates at Oklahoma State.

“First of all he’s a winner, but the thing that impresses me most about Win is that ever since I’ve known him he’s had a unique, uncanny ability to make everybody he touches feel like he came to talk to them and that they’re the most important person in the room,” Self said. “He has a gift that very few have in that regard.”

Case says he’d consider a head coach opportunity again but only if he felt it was a great fit.

“I’m very very content in working for Coach. I could retire with him,” he said.

Case was the head coach at Oklahoma City University for 13 seasons, posting a 343-127 record with national championships in 1994 and 1996.

Making a case

“One of the main reasons I left the small colleges was that I wanted to get under someone that I thought was really, really good,” Case said. “It was a great decision. I thought I knew a lot about basketball before I got with coach Davis. I’ve learned so much more about how to run a program on and off the floor.”

After a 1-7 start to conference play, Ole Miss swept a three-game homestand with an 83-58 win over rival Mississippi State – and carries a 13-11, 4-7 SEC mark into Saturday’s trip to No. 12 Kentucky.

Case’s positive energy has been important for the Ole Miss staff in recent weeks as he’s called on tough times from the past and the turnarounds that have resulted, Davis said.

“Win never loses faith. He’s one of those guys that comes to the office and says, ‘Coach, I’m telling you we’re fine. He’s always upbeat, and that’s great.”

parrish.alford@journalinc.com

Twitter: @parrishalford

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