OXFORD — In heist movies, master thieves are often driven out of retirement to do “one last job”. Then, in the sequel, they are told again about their retirement.
In 1982, classic rock legends The Who embarked on their farewell tour. Forty years later, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey are still rocking the arenas.
Ole Miss senior guard Jarkel Joiner will take part in the Rebels’ Seniors Day festivities against Vanderbilt on Saturday (5 p.m., SEC Network). It’s usually a surefire sign of the end of a college career. But if years of Fast and Furious The sequels and rock star reunions have taught us something, and that is that a conclusion doesn’t have to be an end.
“This is not goodbye,” Joiner told the Clarion Ledger.
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A fifth-year senior from Oxford, Joiner’s college career twisted more times than a tilt-a-whirl. From Oxford High School, he spent his first two college seasons at Cal State Bakersfield, starting 61 of 64 games and setting seven school records. In 2019, he transferred to Ole Miss and missed a season due to since changed NCAA transfer rules.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. And the NCAA rules have changed. In the space of two years, Joiner has lost eight teammates on the transfer portal and gained six new ones. He played sick, faced a deluge of injuries, celebrated heartbreaking wins and suffered heartbreaking losses.
Through it all, Joiner led the Rebels in scoring in 2021-22, averaging 13.8 points per game. It hasn’t always been easy. He’s missed 10 games through injury or illness and admits he’s not playing 100% after mid-season surgery for a back injury. But when he was, like when he scored 20 points against Memphis or 33 points against Alabama or 18 against South Carolina one night when he didn’t know he had the flu, he was one of the top SEC guards.
Hence the enigma of Joiner. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Joiner has a sixth year of eligibility to use. But based on conversations with Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis and advice from coaches and family, Joiner intends to put his name in the 2022 NBA draft pool and see comments. he gets before deciding if he will use this sixth season.
“(Davis and I) talked about it before the season this summer,” Joiner said. “He said he wanted me to go test the waters in the assessment and see where I am. If I don’t get what I want and it’s not what we’re looking for, I will come back.”
What Joiner does has become commonplace in college basketball. In recent seasons, Ole Miss guards Devontae Shuler and Breein Tyree have both come in and out of the NBA draft. Each earned first-team All-SEC honors upon their return to Oxford.
It is therefore not surprising or unprecedented that Joiner is thinking about his professional future. What is different in the case of Joiner is even having the possibility of returning for a sixth university season.
Joiner is completing her degree in multidisciplinary studies this spring. He said he had conversations with his academic adviser about what he would study if he returned in 2022-23, but is still undecided.
“Not everyone’s path is the same,” Joiner said. “I put my faith in God. If God wants me to come back to play in 6th grade, then I will play in 6th grade. I feel like when you get to that age you want to start being a professional or just wait with looking forward to others But if God wants me back, I’m excited to come back and play.
Having a Senior Night ceremony is a big deal for Joiner. He’s a local hero, but not all of his family call Oxford home. He has an aunt coming to Saturday’s game whom he hasn’t seen in 10 years. He has grandparents who are going to see him perform in an Ole Miss uniform for the first time. He has relatives from Memphis and North Carolina who come to see him off.
Unless, as Joiner says, it’s not a farewell. Then those family members will have another excuse to come to Oxford next March.
“I don’t know,” Joiner said when asked how he would feel on Saturday. “I haven’t really thought about it. It’s a little weird, you know? I’ve got a year of eligibility. I’ll probably be locked into the game more than anything, and then after the game, it’s will install and stuff like that but then I have to pull myself together and go to the SEC tournament. I’m just going to be happy to see my family and friends there.
Contact Nick Suss at 601-408-2674 or [email protected] Follow @nicksuss on Twitter.