Story by Robert Wilson
Callaway High alumnus and Ole Miss freshman guard Daeshun Ruffin played in his first game since he injured his right hand on Nov. 9 and scored a team-high 12 points in 12 ½ minutes in a 62-52 victory over Middle Tennessee State in Oxford.
The 5-foot-9 Ruffin, playing with two of his fingers on right hand taped together, made 4 of 9 shots from the field, 4 of 6 shots from the free throw line with 1 assist and 1 steal. And that after having just one full practice.
Ruffin – the first Mississippi Player of the Year to sign with Ole Miss in 23 years – made his debut and had 4 points, 2 assists, 2 steals and 1 blocked shot in a 82-61 victory over the University of New Orleans Nov. 9 in Oxford.
Ruffin took a hard ball driving to the basket in that game and suffered a broken bone in his hand and has been sidelined until Wednesday night.
“It was great to get Daeshun out there for about 12 minutes,” said Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis on the postgame radio show. “He is such a talent. He’s got to be the top 1 or 2 in high school basketball in his class. Daeshun is a really good shooter. I hope he can help us in too. A guy that can really jump up and make some 3s.
“He doesn’t lack for confidence. He never has. Even as a ninth grader when I watched him play, he had confidence. I think he could have played more, but he had a physical practice yesterday. He is going to a huge, huge factor for us down the stretch.”
This is the second time in Ruffin’s young college career he has been injured.
“Daeshun is amazing. He has worked his tail off,” Davis said. “It’s no fun (what he’s been through). He got to school, went back home, spent the summer with us, played great and got hurt in a pickup game. So he missed four and half weeks during rehab on his knee. It’s a lot for a young guy. Then he works with us for four weeks of practice, plays in the first game and gets hurt again. Then, he’s back to rehab again. Daeshun would just run because he couldn’t do anything else. His conditioning was better than I could even imagine.”
“I just wanted to be with my brothers,” Ruffin said. “I know I’ve missed a lot of time and I’ve gone through practice. My and my (athletic trainer Andrew Beyke), we just took it day by day. Most of all I just wanted to be with my brothers again. I’m close, very close. I wouldn’t say I’m 100 percent yet, but I’m very close.”
Ole Miss, 7-3, plays host to Dayton Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in Oxford.
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, averaged 33.1 points, led Callaway to a 10-1 record and the Class 5A quarterfinals last season. 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. Ruffin’s 33.1 scoring average would have ranked sixth in the nation according to MaxPreps if he had played in enough games to qualify. 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, this past season. Ruffin shot 50 percent from the field, 37 percent from 3-point range (averaging 2.2 per game), and 76.7 percent from the free throw line.
Ruffin burst onto the high school basketball scene as a freshman. He averaged 19.6 points and led Callaway to a 25-6 record and the Class 5A state semifinals. As a sophomore, Ruffin averaged 26.4 points and led the Chargers to a 21-8 record and the 5A state quarterfinals. He took it to another level last season. And so did Callaway, playing in showcase games across the country. Ruffin showed off his game as well. He averaged 30.1 points in eight games across the South. Ruffin had only one game below 27 points with highs of 37 points twice. Callaway had a 5-3 record against some of the best teams in the country and Ruffin going up against some of the best players in the country.