Can 'All-SEC Caliber' Matthew Murrell's Return Push Ole Miss to NCAA Tournament?

How big is Matthew Murrell's return for the Ole Miss Rebels in the 2024-25 season?
Ole Miss Rebels guard Matthew Murrell (11)
Ole Miss Rebels guard Matthew Murrell (11) / Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
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The Ole Miss Rebels received a flurry of good news this week as both transfer Malik Dia and returner Matthew Murrell withdrew from the NBA Draft and elected to stay in Oxford for the 2024-25 season.

Murrell is entering his fifth year as a Rebel, but just how big is his return for Ole Miss' NCAA Tournament hopes? According to some analysts, very big.

Recently, Rob Dauster and Jeff Goodman recorded a new edition of the Field of 68 Podcast where they discussed some NBA Draft takeaways for college basketball. In the "most underrated decision" category, Dauster believed that Murrell was the best fit for that bill.

"Matthew Murrell, an All-SEC caliber guard averaged 16 points a game this past season," Dauster said. [Ole Miss] looks like a team that should be ranked in the Top 20.

"Matthew Murrell, for my money, will be the best player on that team next season, and all of a sudden, you're kind of looking at what Chris Beard has down there in Oxford, and you can squint your eyes, and to me, this looks like a five-seed in the NCAA Tournament."

Goodman believed that there were some other decisions who could prove to be bigger assets to their respective teams this season, but he did agree that Murrell's return is huge for Ole Miss and should help the Rebels on a tournament run.

"Murrell, huge, huge boost for them," Goodman said. "Listen, Chris Beard we know can coach. Last year, didn't do what a lot of us thought he'd do which was get them to the tournament in Year 1, but they've got enough returning pieces and a bunch of new dudes through the portal.

"They NIL'd it up, and there's no reason that Ole Miss shouldn't be in the tournament and be a factor when it comes to the SEC race this year."

Murrell joins Rebel returners like Jaylen Murray and Jaemyn Brakefield on what will be a new-look Ole Miss roster this winter. Chris Beard and Co. pulled off a massive haul in the transfer portal, landing the likes of Ja'Von Benson (Hampton), Mikeal Brown-Jones (UNC Greensboro), Malik Dia (Belmont), Dre Davis (Seton Hall), Davon Barnes (Sam Houston), and Sean Pedulla (Virginia Tech).

The Rebels will look to ride this talent to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2019.


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John Macon Gillespie

JOHN MACON GILLESPIE

John Macon Gillespie is the publisher of The Grove Report and has experience on the Ole Miss beat spanning five years.