COLUMN: Ole Miss fans who follow basketball recruiting and the future of the Rebels on the hardwood will definitely be paying attention to the outcome of tonight’s matchup between the Provine Rams and Wayne County in the MHSAA Class 5A semifinal game.The 25-2 Rams, who defeated Oxford to advance to Jackson in the 5A North Half semifinals, are led by Ole Miss signee Jarvis Summers, a 6-foot-3 point guard who has developed a knack for setting up his teammates as well as any player veteran coach Luther Riley has been around.
Riley, who has won five state titles at Provine, has seen a lot of growth from Summers, who started his career as a shooting guard.
“I saw that he was 6-2, 6-3 but he can pass the ball so well I said ‘son, we’re going to move you to the point.’ I think this year what he’s really improved on is time and score, when to score and when to get my teammates involved and when it’s my time to take over a game. I think he’s made himself into a complete point guard,” Riley said. “What separates him from other point guards is he’s about 6-4 playing the point and his mental ability to see things before it happens, I think that separates him from a lot of the other kids we’ve had. He can see things two or three plays ahead.”
Riley has been around his share of good point guards during his career while Provine has turned out some great players, including three former Rebels in Justin Reed, David Sanders and Aaron Harper, otherwise known as the “Provine Posse.” Summers, Riley said, is as good as any of those top players because of his skill level and now that he’s developed a better sense of when to score after setting up his teammates, he’s become even more dangerous.
“He’s gotten better with his intangible things starting with leadership. His leadership has been so consistent and so accepting. He accepts leadership. His skills on the court as far as managing his team, scoring, getting other guys involved, he does everything a quality point guard does,” Riley said about Summers, who is averaging 19 points, eight assists and six rebounds per game heading into tonight’s game. “I think once he gets on campus and No. 1 adds 10 to 12, 15 pounds, the skills are there. Once he gets the physical part, the mind and skills are there. Coach Mike White can add that on. Once he does that, it will be something to see I’m telling you.”
Summers has developed a very strong relationship with White during the recruiting process, but it was Riley’s relationship with Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy that got the ball rolling in regards to Summers signing on with the Rebels.
“Coach Kennedy is from close to my hometown. He’s from Louisville and I went to South Leake. I kind of followed Coach Kennedy when he went to college and that sort of thing,” Riley said. “Once he started recruiting, I told him I know how you like your guards and I know you let your guards play and I said Jarvis would fit right in. He came down and watched him and fell in love with him.”
The future appears to be bright for the Rebels’ backcourt with Summers coming on board. Not only does he have the ability to give additional scoring to next year’s team — a must after losing Chris Warren — but his vision and pass-first mentality would allow a guard like Dundrecous Nelson to get some more shots.
“I feel real comfortable with (Nelson). I could see myself playing next to him with me being the distributor and him being the scorer. We both can run a team,” said Summers, who is a finalist for Mr. Basketball Award in the state. “I finish plays when I need to because I’m more of a distributor. I get my teammates involved.”
A pulled hamstring suffered against Oxford prevented Summers from being really involved in the Rams’ win over the Chargers and it prevented him from doing anything against Lanier, the team the Rams lost to in the 5A North Half title game. Summers’ ultimate goal is winning the state title like his brother did at Provine before him and he knows that he has to be on the court for that to happen.
“It was killing me because I’m the leader and if I don’t show up, then the team doesn’t show up,” Summers said of not being able to play in North Half. “I think I’ve been more of a leader and just pushing my teammates to work hard everyday. I’m trying to get the gold ball. I still have a lot more work to do. I got to finish the season out. We got to finish as a team and I have to be the one that steps up.” (March 1, 2011, Page 8)