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Mississippi Grants St. Pete’s Serrel Smith His Release

St. Petersburg’s Serrel Smith was granted his release from Mississippi on Friday.

Smith, a four-star recruit, would have been the Rebels’ highest-rated signee in the class of 2018.

That all changed in February when Andy Kennedy announced he would be stepping as Mississippi’s coach after 12 seasons.

Since then, Smith mulled over backing out of his signing before deciding to do so nearly two weeks ago.

Kermit Davis, the former Middle Tennessee State coach who was hired to replace Kennedy, made an in-home visit with the Smith family on Thursday, according to a statement.

The following day, the Rebels released Smith from his signing.

“Serrel is a great young man with a fantastic family, and we look forward to the process,” Davis said in a statement.

Mississippi still is in the running to land Smith, but will have a much more difficult time convincing him to remain with the program considering his stock has soared after a stellar senior season.

Last week, Smith was named the Class 8A state player of the year after averaging 29.3 points per game and leading St. Petersburg to the state semifinals for the third time in the past four seasons.

That makes Smith a coveted prospect.

Blackwell said he received numerous calls from colleges when Smith said he would ask for his release, a list that has only grown with several major programs now interested.

Nothing can be done for more than a week. The paperwork for Smith’s release should be completed by Tuesday, a day before a week-long dead period in recruiting.

Once the dead period ends, Blackwell said he will have an open gym session with Smith in which several college assistants and coaches are expected to attend.

Another disadvantage for the Rebels is their system under Davis, who prefers a more methodical approach on offense and is less dependent on 3-pointers.

That does not fit Smith, a sharp-shooter who has NBA range on 3-pointers.

“I’m looking for a program who is granting me the same opportunity (Kennedy) was, and that’s to play through my mistakes and learn and grow off them. And letting guards have their free will,” Smith said two weeks ago when he first asked for his release.

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