September 24, 2010

Rebels entertain highest-ranked visitor in program's history

Ole Miss targeted Ky Madden as its point guard of the future more than two years ago.

The Rebels have been courting the four-star standout from Lepanto (East Poinsett County), Ark., ever since.

Madden arrives in Oxford today for an official visit with Andy Kennedy and Co., doing so as the highest-rated prospect in the program's 100-plus-year history.

"I've got a lot of feelings about Ole Miss," Madden said. "I really like it. It's real close to home and the coaching staff has been great. They always tell me what's good and bad. They really don't tell me everything as I'd want to hear it, which is something I don't get from all recruiters. They always tell you what you just want to hear. With Ole Miss, it isn't like that. They tell me what I need to hear."

It's the third official visit of the fall for the 6-foot-4 Madden, who is ranked by Rivals.com as the nation's No. 6 point guard and No. 27 overall prospect. Madden has already visited Baylor and Arkansas. He's scheduled to visit Oklahoma State Thursday and then take one final visit to Connecticut on Oct. 8 before deciding which program he'll sign with in November.

"I plan to take all five of my visits," Madden said. "After that, I'll make my decision. I want to make sure I'm picking the right school. I don't want to second-guess anything. I want to make sure I choose the right one.

"I'm starting to get the feeling for where I want to go, but I always second-guess it because I really don't know. I mean, this is my career. I want to throw my career in the best coach's hands possible. So that's how it gets hard. You build relationships with all of these coaches and they're all good to you. I hate to have to tell some of them no and that I'm not going to go. That's pretty much the hardest part -- to tell people no and to tell them I'm going to go to some other school."

In recent weeks, it's been widely rumored that Madden has narrowed his list of favorites to Ole Miss and Arkansas or Ole Miss and Baylor. The Rebels have been, throughout the process, at or near the top of Madden's pecking order. That makes this weekend's trip critical, both for Ole Miss and for Madden.

"Really, I want to see what a day would be like," Madden said. "How do they do school? How do they workout? It's stuff like that. I want to see how they push them at practice and see if I can do the same things that they do or if not the same, better."

Two of Madden's teammates on the AAU national champion Arkansas Wings, forwards Hunter Mickelson and Aaron Ross, have already committed to the Razorbacks. Madden acknowledged that there's pressure in the Natural State on him to follow suit. Madden admitted that telling John Pelphrey no is "going to be real hard. A lot of people want me to go there -- a lot of fans and my teammates. It's going to be hard, but wherever I go, whoever I tell no to it's going to be hard."

Arkansas recently landed a commitment from Missouri native/five-star point guard B.J. Jones. Madden said Arkansas' coaches discussed Jones' status with him during his official visit to Fayetteville as well as when Jones committed to the Hogs.

"They said he said he wants to be the two (shooting guard) and they want me to be their one (point guard) and they want me to run their team," Madden said.

Ole Miss does, too, and the Rebels have shown Madden a clear path to the starting point guard spot in Oxford. Senior Chris Warren is preparing for his last season in a Rebel uniform, and there's no clear heir apparent on campus. Ole Miss is hopeful it can land Madden, knowing he could well have influence on the decisions of several other top Rebel targets, most notably four-star power forward Johnny O'Bryant.

"It's pretty much who I can trust the most and who I can lean on to help me take the next step and get to the NBA and get me ready for the NBA," Madden said. "That's pretty much what it is. This is a business decision for me. I don't want to make the wrong decision and put my career in the wrong hands and go where it's not the best fit for me. That's why I've got to look at this real closely before I make a decision."

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