WOODSTOCK – Jamarko Pickett had been leaning toward Ole Miss as his college of choice when he traveled to the school’s Oxford, Missippi, campus for a weekend visit with the basketball program in mid-October. Just a few days later, on Oct. 20, the Massanutten Military Academy postgraduate hoops star made his verbal commitment to the Rebels.
Pickett, a 6-foot-9 combo forward from Washington, D.C., took advantage of the NCAA’s early signing period to make his pledge official Wednesday morning by signing his national letter of intent with Ole Miss.
“Going in I already knew I liked the school a lot so I wasn’t really going expecting them to show me some spectacular thing that was gonna get me to commit to the school,” Pickett said of his official visit. “I just wanted to go there, see how they operate. I seen a little bit of film with the team and stuff like that. They showed me the campus and it just exceeded my expectations. Of course I knew it was a great school. I mean they have like great facilities and stuff like that, but it exceeded my expectations.”
His official visit to the school only solidified what had been a rapidly growing relationship between Pickett and members of the Rebel coaching staff.
Pickett – who fielded a multitude of offers from Division I schools, including South Carolina, Cincinnati, Creighton, Memphis, Kansas State and Rhode Island – said he has interacted with college coaches daily since arriving at MMA in August, although none made more trips to Woodstock than Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy and assistant coach Bill Armstrong.
“Coach Armstrong and Coach Kennedy showed me that they were committed to me, like I was a priority to the team. They came in here plenty of times to see me,” said Pickett, estimating that a member of the Ole Miss coaching staff visited him at least once a week. “Coach Kennedy came in a couple times. It showed me that they … were very, very interested in me and it didn’t seem like I’m not just going there and just, if I get in trouble or something like that, like they’ll look out for me. They have my back whatever I do.”
Pickett, rated a three-star prospect by Scout.com, averaged 18.3 points and seven rebounds through MMA’s first three games this season (the Colonels hosted Combine Academy Wednesday evening). He put up 30 points in the Colonels’ season opening win over Capital Christian on Nov. 1.
Considered by MMA head coach Chad Myers to have been an underrated recruit coming out of D.C.’s Eastern Senior High – Pickett, thin for his 6-9 frame at 195 pounds, suffered a broken wrist in the spring and didn’t garner much college attention until he joined D.C. Premier on the AAU circuit this past summer – Pickett now has the chance to build up his strength, improve his defense and maintain his shooting touch at MMA without the distraction of the recruiting process.
“He can really score the ball. He’s super talented, can make threes, get to the rim, drive it, all that stuff,” Myers said. “I mean he’s very capable of being a good defender also. I think it’s just strength and getting used to the physicality of the play. Obviously he’s gonna be in the (Southeastern Conference), it’s gonna be an adjustment at first. But all the other stuff he has, I think he’s gonna be able to bring some things that can help them right away.”
At Ole Miss, Pickett will join former Colonel Deandre Burnett, who transferred to the Rebels last season from the University of Miami.
Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org