July 3, 2008

Buckner continues Rebels' Bluff City run

One year ago, Ole Miss made waves in the Memphis prep scene by signing Terrico White.

The Rebels are building on that momentum in the form of versatile forward Reginald Buckner.

"My mom and I sat down and had a talk," Buckner said. "We liked the facilities and the coaching staff and after we thought about it, we went on and made out commitment to the team."

"(Ole Miss assistant) Coach (Torrey) Ward is a good coach. He stayed in and out of Manassas. He was telling me I was their No. 1 guy. He really laid out the red carpet for me."

Buckner, a four-star standout from Memphis' Manassas High School, committed to Ole Miss Thursday, choosing the Rebels over Missouri and UTEP. The Tigers and Miners had also offered, as had Bradley, Georgia State, Middle Tennessee, North Texas and Southeast Missouri State. Arizona, Kentucky and Memphis had shown heavy interest recently _ Kentucky invited him to its elite camp last month, though Buckner turned down the Wildcats and made the trip south to Oxford instead _ and appeared to be on the verge of offering scholarships.

"He's a very versatile player," Buckner's AAU coach, Jerry Anthony, said. "He can play inside and outside. This kid can block shots around the basket better than any player who's ever come through Memphis. I compare him to (former University of Memphis and NBA star) Penny Hardaway. He's the most versatile player I've ever seen in the Memphis scene. He's a Scottie Pippen-kind of (small forward/point forward). At the college level, he could guard anyone from point guards to power forwards."

"At the college level, I see myself at the 3, mainly because of my frame," Buckner said. "I can take bigger guys off the dribble."

Buckner, who averaged 17 points, 12 rebounds and six blocked shots per game as a junior, will sign in the fall and enroll at Ole Miss next summer. Barring some attrition, he'll be the only member of the Rebels' signing class. He had emerged as the Rebels' top target after a strong showing at the Ole Miss elite camp in June.

"Ole Miss showed me better things," Buckner said. "It's over. I'm through."

Anthony said Buckner chose Ole Miss, in large part, because of the relationships he had built with the Rebels' coaching staff.

"He's always talking about Coach Torrey Ward, Coach Andy Kennedy and Coach (Owen) Miller," Anthony said. "Coach Ward was at the games all season, in and out of Memphis. Coach Ward was more aggressive than any other recruiter that recruited Reggie.

"Ole Miss is making some noise here. Not nationally, but people in the city who go out and watch players in Memphis everyday, they thought Terrico was the best player in Memphis last year. A lot of people inside Memphis think Reggie is the best player in the city this year. The reason people feel like that is when they compare him to (Memphis Briarcrest Christian/North Carolina commitment) Leslie McDonald, Reggie can do everything he can do and block shots too. Reggie dominates games. I think Reggie's a legitimate small forward in the NBA."

First, Buckner has to finish his prep career at Manassas.

"It's going to be a long year waiting for my turn," Buckner said.

Buckner's commitment comes on the heels of the Rebels' signing of arguably the top signing class in school history. The Rebels inked White, South Carolina standout forward Murphy Holloway, star Louisiana forward Terrance Henry, Idaho shooting sensation Will Bogan and junior college big man DeAundre Cranston. Buckner said he'll follow those guys closely this season, looking forward to joining them in the summer of 2009.

"We're going to have a great team, a great atmosphere," Buckner said. "We're coming in with some new ballers."

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