"Ole Miss is just a great program and it is not too far away from home, added Johnny O'Bryant. "I also like them because they get a lot of fan support. Coach Kennedy told me to not expect a packed house Saturday because all of their students were still out of school, but it was packed and loud. I love how crazy it gets in that gym."
The Rebel coaches have been keeping a close eye on Johnny since his 9th grade season, and that has made an impact on him as well.
"I really like them a lot. They are real cool and understand you because they are young too. My favorite coach is Owen (Miller). He is real cool and is up to par with everything. He understands what we go through as recruits. He is why I got so interested in Ole Miss in the first place."
The game Saturday between the two instate rivals was exciting on and off the court.
"I think it was their second largest crowd in school history. It was packed. "They had it rumbling in that place. It was a real great game too. I think Vernardo was the game changer for MSU. He altered a lot of shots and made the Ole Miss players throw up a lot of crazy shots up at the end of the game. He pretty much took over the game for MSU."
What new did he learn about Ole Miss during the visit?
"They let their post players play free and let them do what they want to. They let them run the floor and play up tempo."
What new did he learn about MSU during the game?
"They also like to play up tempo. They kind of let their big men play free, but they play more inside/outside, which frees up the ball. They go through Vernardo a lot and run their offense through their post (players)."
What does he like most about Ole Miss?
"I just like their style of play and the coaching staff is what I like most about Ole Miss. They are all from Mississippi or around the South and have that southern hospitality personality. I have just gelled with that staff, and they have gelled with me. They just understand where I am coming from."
How does Scout.com's #3 nationally ranked power forward fit in with Mississippi State?
"They are a good program too. I like MSU a lot. They both have good coaches too, and I think both OM and MSU have good programs."
What does Johnny like most about MSU?
"I like how dedicated they are to recruiting. If they like you; they show you a lot of dedication. They show you that they want you be coming around and seeing you and things like that. They are good recruiters."
How many times has O'Bryant visited the Oxford and Starkville campuses?
"I have been up to Ole Miss 5 or 6 times and MSU 3 or 4 times."
Which schools are coming after Johnny the hardest?
"MSU, Ole Miss, Memphis, Alabama, Arkansas, Baylor, and Oklahoma. Harvard too."
Out of that group, who is coming after the 5-Star the hardest?
"Well, I am still open to everyone, but I would probably say the two Mississippi schools."
Nobody is on top?
"Nobody is on top of anybody. I am open to everybody, and I am just taking in the recruiting process so I can make a good decision."
What is going on with Memphis?
"I like their new head coach. He is just a really/really good recruiter and coach. He is real young and a good person too. Memphis also gets a lot of support."
The last time Johnny was interviewed by Scout.com he stated that his top three schools were Memphis, Ole Miss, and Harvard. Some eyebrows raised when they read the name Harvard, but they are definitely still in the mix.
"They are just a great school for education and basketball. You can't beat a degree from Harvard, and I really like coach (Brian) DeStefano. Their head coach, Tommy Amaker, played for Duke and has done a great job with that program. They are a school I am still looking at real hard. They are doing a good job of recruiting me too."
Johnny's grades must be pretty good to be recruited by Harvard, right?
"Yes sir. My mom stays on me pretty good about my grades. I have a 3.1 Core GPA, and I scored an 18 on the ACT my freshman year. I have not taken it again, but I am about to start taking it a lot. I am shooting for the high 20's."
For the readers out there that have not seen Johnny hoop it up; describe your game.
"I think I am good at both ends. I am 6' 9", 215. I can block shots and get out on the defensive side of the ball, but I can also bring the ball down the court and handle the pressure. My pull up game has gotten better, and I can knock down the three ball too. My ball handling has improved the most this year."
The Cleveland Eastside standout averaged 13 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots a game as a sophomore. This year he is averaging 21 points, 16 rebounds, and 4 assists a game.
"I think I am just an all around better player. I can see the court better. I am a better passer. I score more and shoot it better. My ball handling is better. I have gotten little bit better at everything this year."
How is the team doing?
"We started off 2-4, but we are now 14-5. I think we have come together. We just had to get our chemistry down and bond together. We added a few new starters to our line up and had to find a new point guard so it took a little while for everyone to get adjusted. We are balling now. We feel like we can make some noise in the Big House this year. That is everyone's goal."
Yancy Porter is the Recruiting Manager for the State of Mississippi and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org