June 8, 2008

Rebels make strong impression on Buckner

Reginald Buckner isn't much of a secret anymore.

Overshadowed by some high-profile Memphis-area prospects last season, the Memphis (Manassas), Tenn., standout has recently begun to emerge as one of the premier prospects in the country at his position.

The four-star forward spent Saturday and Sunday at Ole Miss' elite basketball camp, and the Rebels are moving into an enviable position in the race for the 6-foot-8 forward's services.

"Ole Miss is a good place to be," Buckner said Sunday night, about an hour after getting back to Memphis and a few minutes before the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers tipped off Game 2 of the NBA Finals (RebelSports.net note: That's worth noting, as Buckner was clearly settling in Sunday night to cheer for the Celtics). "They don't have too many distractions like Memphis. It's a small town and everybody there loves Ole Miss."

Buckner's presence highlighted a camp that featured 51 top prospects from around the Southeast and Mid-South. Also in town for the weekend were Memphis (White Station) guard Joe Jackson; Memphis (Ridgeway) swingman Tarick Black; Memphis (Sheffield) guard Chris Crawford; Muscle Shoals, Ala., guard Ralston Turner; Brandon, Miss., forwards LaQuinton Ross and Tyler Adams; Jackson (Murrah), Miss., guard Deville Smith; Yazoo City, Miss., forward DeMarco Cox and Yazoo City, Miss., guard Corey Cox.

The overwhelming majority of the players in camp were rising sophomores and rising juniors. Ole Miss only has one scholarship to give, though the Rebels are expected to sign two players to enroll next summer. Buckner and Jones (Miss.) Community College guard Trenton Marshall are believed to be Ole Miss' top two targets for that pair of scholarships.

Camp observers said some 35-40 of the players in Oxford this weekend will likely play college basketball. Some 10-12, camp observers added, will likely play in the Southeastern Conference or at a similar level when their high school careers are over.

Buckner is certainly one of those players. Buckner, who averaged 17 points, 12 rebounds and six blocked shots per game while leading Manassas to a 35-5 mark and a bid in the state championship game, said Sunday that Ole Miss, Missouri and UTEP lead. Kentucky and Memphis are in the mix, but those programs are running out of time. Buckner plans to take official visits in September to Ole Miss, Missouri and UTEP before choosing his future school. The Rebels, Buckner said, have a strong chance.

"It was a great camp," said Buckner, who had made the trip down to Oxford earlier in the year to see the Rebels beat Florida at Tad Smith Coliseum. "They had us working on our fundamentals. I'm looking for a school that's going to help me with my academics and make it to the NCAA tournament. With how Ole Miss is working, they're working hard and I think they're going to make it."

Buckner spent some of his time Sunday talking to Ole Miss freshman guard Terico White, an athletic shooting guard from Memphis who was checking out the campers.

"Terrico told me Ole Miss' coaching staff is great," Buckner said. "He said they take care of their players."

Buckner said he's felt his game developing in the past year, so much so that he expects to contribute early at the college level.

"I've got to work on my jump shot," Buckner said. "It's all right. It's going to be where I want it to be if I keep working hard."

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