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April 11, 2011

Ole Miss lands elite shortstop

This time a year ago, Gavin Cecchini thought his college destination was finalized.

The Lake Charles, La., standout infielder was committed to LSU - just like his brother, Garin Cecchini, a 2010 shortstop that was just as highly touted. But when Garin Cecchini decided to sign with the Red Sox after being selected in the fourth round of the MLB Amateur Draft, things unraveled between the Tigers and the Cecchini family.

Gavin Cecchini de-committed soon after, and following a wide search for a new destination, the 2012 elite prospect picked Ole Miss Sunday just as he completed a visit to Oxford, Miss.

"I was sold right after the visit," Cecchini said. "You go to a lot of colleges and like the stadium or the coaches or the student body or the school, but at Ole Miss I liked everything. It's the perfect place to me.

"It overwhelmed me and is the best place in the nation to play college baseball."

Cecchini is rated a 10.0 on Perfect Game's 1-to-10 scale. Named an Under Armour All-American, the shortstop chose Ole Miss over Arkansas, Rice, Texas A&M, North Carolina, Arizona State, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Auburn, Clemson and others.

The Rebels' opportunity at Gavin Cecchini opened after Garin Cecchini signed for $1.31 million in August 2010. Garin Cecchini. The price tag was noteworthy, but it was less than what Garin Cecchini had originally set as his number -- reportedly somewhere near $1.75 million.

"My brother signed for 1.31 million, and they didn't like that he came off his number," said Gavin Cecchini, who visited Oxford with his brother in 2009. "They said if he signed for less, then they'd take away my scholarship offer. They didn't do that, but they stopped contact and didn't invite me to any games or anything. They would have pulled it.

"It ended up being the best thing for me. I don't want to go to a place I can't trust and can't rely on. I'm 100 percent sure Ole Miss is where I am supposed to play college baseball."

But before Cecchini enrolls at Ole Miss, the Rebels will have to sidestep the 2012 Draft. Beginning with Chad Cooley in 1992, Barbe has had tremendous success with the Draft, and Cecchini will keep the streak intact. However, with the possibility of a hard slot system and the overall unpredictability of the Draft, Cecchini isn't focusing on that right now.

A former Southeastern Conference coach told RebelGrove.com over the weekend that Cecchini could be a premier SEC shortstop as a high school junior.

"I picked the college with every intention of being there," Cecchini said. "I'm not worried. They might implement a slotting system and decrease the bonuses. Anything can happen. My head is focused on being a Rebel, helping Ole Miss to the College World Series and winning a national championship."


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