By Robert Wilson
Callaway High alumnus and Ole Miss sophomore point guard Daeshun Ruffin – the first Mississippi Player of the Year to play for the Rebels in 23 years – announced in a statement Tuesday night that he is stepping away from the team “in hopes of regaining 100 percent mental and physical health.”
“I’ve decided to step away from the team and take every action necessary to get well,” Ruffin said in a statement before Tuesday’s game against Kentucky. “However, this is not me giving up on the game I love, but simply taking time to return to full health. I look forward to being back with my Ole Miss teammates in the future and giving them and you the very best version of me.”
The 5-foot-9 Ruffin – a McDonald’s All-American, Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year and two-time Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Player of the Year – has had one injury after another since he started his promising college career last season.
He had a broken hand and ACL injury and surgery last season, then he suffered a bruised knee and had a sickness to set him back this season. He responded with 18 points and seven assists against Missouri a week ago, but he missed the trip to Oklahoma State this past weekend. Ruffin and Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis met after the team got back to Oxford.
“Daeshun’s really been through a lot as a young player,” Davis said. “We love Daeshun. We love his family. He’s going take a little time away from the team. Daeshun has a great heart. He loves the staff. We have a great relationship. He loves Ole Miss. He’s in a place where he wants to get better. We are here to support him in every way possible until he comes back and joins the Rebels.”
Davis felt it was better for Ruffin to stay home instead of making the Oklahoma State trip.
“Daeshun is a McDonald’s All-American,” Davis said this weekend. “He’s had an unbelievable amount of injuries. So it was a coach’s decision. He’s going through things, and we thought it would be better for him to be at home. Coming back from a hard injury, he’s not the same.”
Ruffin is averaging 9.5 points – second highest on the team – in 11 games this season. He missed the first seven games of the season and returned in December. He still was not full speed and had missed three of the past five games for Ole Miss.
Ruffin averaged 12.6 points – second highest on the team – and 3.4 assists and 2.3 steals in 14 games, 10 starts, last season as a freshman. He scored 19 points and helped Ole Miss upset then No. 25 LSU but left the game with a season-ending knee injury.
Ruffin averaged 33.1 points, led Callaway to a 10-1 record and the Class 5A quarterfinals as a senior. Ruffin, rated as rated as the No. 1 player in Mississippi and No. 7 point guard in the country, also averaged 3.2 rebounds, 2.8 steals, 2.0 assists for Callaway, which won 30 straight games against Mississippi teams until losing a 90-85, double overtime decision at Lake Cormorant in the 5A quarterfinals. He finished with 2,541 career points, second place in the storied tradition of great Callaway scorers, only behind Malik Newman, who scored 3,108 from 2011-15.
Ruffin averaged 26.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.9 steals and led Callaway to a 25-5 record – undefeated against Mississippi teams — and the Class 5A state championship, a No. 1 Mississippi and No. 38 national final ranking by MaxPreps, as a junior.