Coach Dave Rice announced after Saturday's practice that freshmen Demetris Morant and Daquan Cook will redshirt this year.
Morant had been a candidate to redshirt since the start of practice last month, and he's been part of the scout team for the past two weeks. The raw but athletic 6-foot-9 forward would have faced a logjam in the frontcourt this season, and the extra year should give him a chance to refine his skills.
Cook's redshirt was more of a surprise, as the point guard looked like he could contribute as a natural distributor this season. But in the end, he and Rice agreed that an additional year would be best for his development.
"I think Daquan absolutely would have played a role for us this year and earned minutes," said Rice, "but we thought he would be better served by redshirting and getting ready to help us next year. I think he'll give us much more production as a fifth-year senior than he would have as a true freshman this season."
At a slightly built 6-feet, Cook knows he has to get bigger and stronger in order to reach his potential for the Rebels.
"I've got to get in the weight room every day," Cook said. "I've got to get stronger and work on my body. That's something I can do for next year if I keep working hard."
Morant is a late-bloomer in the basketball world, as he just started getting serious about the game in high school. He's long and easily one of the most athletic players on the team, but he's understandably raw.
"I feel Demetris is going to be a great player for us," said Rice. "I think he's got a chance to be an All-Conference player in our league, and the best thing for his development right now is to practice hard and play against the big guys we have on this team."
Morant believes he could have helped the team this year as a defender, but he wants to work on his all-around game and earn a bigger role on next year's squad.
"This will make me better for next year, when I can be a bigger part of the team," said Morant. "I'll be able to contribute on offense and defense, not just defense."
Redshirting Morant and Cook will leave the Rebels with an 11-man roster until sophomore center Khem Birch becomes eligible on Dec. 17. Junior guard Roscoe Smith, a transfer from UConn, is also taking a redshirt this season.
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