Sunday, July 15, 2018

Offseason Post # 8

I promised a recruiting post this weekend so here you go.

But first, I want to introduce you to Austin Pitts. Austin is a 5'6 guard in the 2018 class. He played at Opelika, and he's hoping for an opportunity to walk on at Alabama. He's got a great story that Scott Fields wrote about for the Opelika-Auburn news. You can read that story here. I'm invested in his story, and hope to see him in an Alabama uniform next season. Click Austin's name above for a link to a highlight video.

We don't do breaking news here at the ol' Alabama Basketball Blog so most of you reading this are likely aware by this point that Alabama received its second commitment of the 2019 class on Friday when top 100 prospect Juwan Gary announced his decision to come to Tuscaloosa. Gary is a 6'6, 200 lb G/F from Columbia, SC. He's currently ranked in the top 75 nationally by 247 with a 4-star rating.

I must admit, I was surprised earlier this week when the scuttlebutt about Gary coming to Alabama began to surface. He had been considered a South Carolina lean for quite a while, but it seems that the Alabama coaching staff made a positive impression when he visited Tuscaloosa in June. Click here for an interesting article from The State.com about Gary's surprising decision. 

One thing that stands out when watching Juwan's highlights is that he's a physical player. While his primary position will be the 2 or 3 in college, he's physical enough that I could even see him playing the 4 in smaller line-up situations. He appears to move very well without the basketball, and he can handle the ball well, which, due to how physical he plays, serves him well when he drives. I think he has a great chance to play early as a freshman.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Offseason Post # 7

Doing a late post tonight because of the deluge of Alabama basketball news that has rolled down the pike this week. There is some schedule news to report.

The bracket for the 2018 Charleston Classic was released today.




Alabama's first opponent in the event will be Northeastern. The Huskies finished 23-10 last season, won a share of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) title, but lost to Charleston in the title game of the CAA tournament. Unfortunately, despite a strong season, the Huskies did not participate in a postseason tournament. They are expected to be in contention for the CAA title again this season.You can check out the bracket here. Other teams in the field are Virginia Tech, Purdue, Wichita State, Davidson, and Appalachian State.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Offseason Post # 6/Early SEC Predictions

Hello, everyone. I hope you're enjoying the holiday. It's raining here in Austin, TX today. This makes my dogs very happy. Anything that keeps the fireworks to a minimum tonight is appreciated.

I thought it would be fun to write a post with some early SEC predictions for the 18-19 season. There is still the possibility of some roster changes before we reach the end of the summer, but, for the most part, rosters are intact for next season. Once again the league looks like it will be formidable on the heels of a historic season in which the league sent a record eight teams to the NCAA Tournament. Unlike last season I believe the league this season will be a little more top heavy. As good as it was a season ago, it's important to remember that only two teams (Kentucky, Texas A&M) out of the eight advanced to the second weekend of the tournament.

Before I post those predictions, let's review a couple of noteworthy items around the program.

1] Avery Johnson has his first commitment for the 2019 class. Today, Diante Smith, a 6'6, 195 lb forward from Fort Walton Beach, FL, announced his commitment to Alabama on Twitter.




Smith is currently rated as a 3-star prospect at 247. His primary recruiter was Coach Rosemond. Last season, Smith averaged 17.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.3 bpg and 2.3 spg. His shooting averages were impressive - 56% FG and 41% 3PT.

2] Alabama's top target in the 2020 class could be 5-star guard Brandon Boston from Norcross, GA. Boston recently was in Tuscaloosa for an unofficial visit. Boston fits the profile of the types of guards Avery wants to recruit: tall, lengthy (Boston is 6'6) guards that can play multiple spots on the floor.

3] 4-star guard Kira Lewis was on campus on June 25th for an unofficial visit. Alabama is still considered the favorite for Lewis, but it should be noted that Lewis will play for the Hoop City Basketball Club AAU traveling team this summer. Trendon Watford will also be playing for that team. Why is this potentially significant for Bama basketball? Hoop City is based in Memphis. It was also formerly known by another name, M33M, named after Mike Miller, who is now an assistant coach at Memphis. I said it in the last post, and I'll say it again: what once looked like a powerhouse class for Alabama, with three of the top recruits in the state at the top of that class, now looks much less secure.

4] 4-star guard Jaykwon Walton is part of that 2019 in-state group of players that Avery is hoping to recruit to Alabama, but Georgia and new head coach Tom Crean appear to be making a push for Walton. Georgia recently picked up a crystal ball pick from 247 after Walton took an unofficial visit to Athens. As important as the 2019 class is to the future of the Alabama program under Avery, this recruiting period is going to be as tough as we've seen in many years. This is partly where a coaching staff earn their salaries. As if the games aren't nerve-wracking enough, am I right?

Hit the break for those SEC predictions I mentioned hours ago (and with this, Msmilie let slip how much procrastination occurs during the writing of a post)


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Offseason Post #5

We're 20 weeks, give or take, from the start of the season, the July evaluation period is just around the corner, and information about the schedule continues to trickle out.

Let's start with the non-conference schedule news. It appears that Alabama will host Murray State next season.




Murray State were the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) champions last season, winning their conference tournament and advancing to the NCAA Tournament where they lost to West Virginia in the first round. They finished the season 26-6. For as long as I can remember, that program has been steady. That's a good addition to the schedule.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

SEC Announces Men's Basketball Opponents for the 18-19 Season

The SEC has revealed the opponents for each league team for next season. For Alabama, this means home-and-homes with their three permanent opponents - Auburn, LSU and Mississippi State - and their rotating home-and-home this season will be Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.

Alabama will host Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Ole Miss, and will travel to Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee and South Carolina. That's a pretty good slate of conference home games for the fans to check out this season. The permanent opponents - Auburn, LSU and Mississippi State - are all expected to be in contention for NCAA berths this season.

It's shaping up as another tough year in the league following a 2017-18 season that saw a record eight teams from the league make the NCAA Tournament. With many star players choosing to return to school next season, an influx of talented freshmen, and a coaching pool that recently added Tom Crean and Kermit Davis, the SEC could make a serious challenge for the best conference, from top to bottom, in college basketball next season. Who's ready for November?

Here's how the schedule shapes up so far:

Charleston Classic [Appalachian St, Ball St, Davidson, Northeastern, Purdue, Virginia Tech, Wichita State]
at UCF
at Rhode Island??? (it's been reported this game may not happen, at least not this season)
Arizona (wouldn't shock me if, assuming Alabama only plays one game in Birmingham this season, this is the Vulcan Classic game)
at Baylor [Big 12/SEC Challenge]

Conference Home Games: Auburn, Mississippi State, LSU, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Ole Miss

Conference Road Games: Auburn, Mississippi State, LSU, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

C.M. Newton has passed away

Condolences to his friends and family.  C.M. Newton was one of the best minds in college basketball, and by all accounts a true gentleman and a class act.  I know his accomplishments are very much appreciated both here and in Kentucky.  He will be missed. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

SEC vs Big 12 Challenge Matchups Announced

The Tide will travel to Waco, TX to take on the Baylor Bears on Saturday, January 26.  They were a sweet 16 team in 2017, and lost to Mississippi $tate in the second round of the NIT this past season.  It should be a chance to pick up a decent quality win on the road.

Here are the rest of the matchups:

  • Arkansas at Texas Tech
  • Florida at TCU
  • Texas at Georgia
  • Kansas at Kentucky
  • Iowa State at Ole Miss
  • South Carolina at Oklahoma State
  • West Virginia at Tennessee
  • Kansas State at Texas A&M
  • Vanderbilt at Oklahoma

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Offseason Post #4

Continuing my creatively named offseason posts.

The men's basketball team had their postseason banquet last week. You can click the link for more details.

1] The biggest news coming out of the banquet was that Riley Norris will return for a fifth season after he was granted a medical hardship waiver. Obviously great news for Riley and his family. His senior season was never able to get off the ground due to a hip injury. Riley's experience and his overall play will be an important factor for next seasons' team. I think I speak for everyone when I say that I'm happy to have Riley back next season.

2] Braxton Key will not be back, of course, but he has found a landing spot. He will sit a year, and then suit up for Tony Bennett and Virginia. I think this is a good spot for Braxton. Say what you want to about Virginia's struggles in March, but Bennett is an outstanding coach that has turned Virginia into a real national power. And Virginia ain't a bad place to get an education. Best of luck to Braxton in the future.

3] Offers for the 2019 and 2020 classes continue. In the last week the Bama coaching staff has offered Diante Smith, a 6'6, 190 lb forward from Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Smith is currently rated a 4-star prospect by 247 in the 2019 class. Also offered in the 2019 class is Greg Gantt, a 6'7, 195 lb forward from Fayetteville, NC. Gantt is currently rated a 4-star prospect by 247. The staff also offered Austin Harvell, a 6'6, 215 lb guard from Athens, Alabama. Harvell is in the 2020 class. I like all of these guys, but Harvell might be my favorite. It's tough to believe watching his highlights that he's got two more years of high school left. Keep an eye on this guy.




4] There's some schedule news. It appears that the return trip to Rhode Island has been pushed back to the 19-20 season, according to a tweet by everyone's favorite automaton, Jon Rothstein. No idea which school pushed the decision to move the game back a year. At this point, who knows if the game ever takes place.

The return game with UCF will take place next season, and we have a date. Alabama will travel to Orlando to face the Golden Knights on November 29th. No game time yet, but for those of you looking for a post-Thanksgiving trip, there you go. Perhaps UCF will award themselves another national championship if they win the game......

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Offseason Post #3

The offseason rolls on with all the speed of a glacier, but the news never really stops in college basketball. The Alabama coaching staff are currently attending certified events evaluating players, extending offers, etc. Let's review what's happened in recruiting over the past week.

1] Before we turn to the future, let's focus on the past. Former Alabama guard Justin Coleman transferred from Alabama two seasons ago, landing at Samford. Now a graduate, Justin decided to spend his final year outside his home state of Alabama. His landing spot: Arizona. That's right, when Arizona visits Alabama later this year on December 9th, Coleman will have the opportunity to face his former school. To my knowledge there were no hard feelings when Justin left, but I would guess that will be a special game for him, be it in Tuscaloosa or Birmingham.




2] Ar'Mond Davis has found a landing spot after transferring from Alabama. He will spend his final year of eligibility at UC Santa Barbara. I think this is a good move for Ar'Mond. Santa Barbara is a good basketball program, and my understanding is the campus is gorgeous. I hope Ar'Mond's college career ends on a high note.

3] In the last post I mentioned Alabama had offered Dmitry Ryuny, a 6'7, 190 lb forward currently enrolled at Birmingham's Central Park Christian. In that post I was unsure if he was a 2018 or 2019 recruit. I can now confirm that he is a 2018 recruit. This is interesting to me because the roster is currently full from a scholarship standpoint. The fact that the staff would offer Ryuny suggests they anticipate another departure. There's also the possibility that Avery Jr. will not be on scholarship this season, which would open up a spot for Ryuny. There are no favorites to land Ryuny's signature at this time, but he did take an unofficial visit to Tuscaloosa this past week.




4] While Ryuny would be a late pickup for the 2018 class, the staff is focusing most of their attention on what is shaping up to be an all-important 2019 class. In-state prospects Trendon Watford, Kira Lewis and Jaykwon Walton are the top targets in the class, but the staff have started expanding their offers outside the state. Let's take a look at the players that were offered this past week.

Jaylin Williams is a 6'6, 190 lb forward from Nahunta, Georgia. 247 ranks him as a top 100 recruit (83). Other notable schools recruiting him are Georgia, Auburn, Florida and Xavier. Georgia is the early favorite.

Drew Timme is a 6'9, 210 lb forward from Richardson, Texas. 247 has him ranked just outside the top 100 (108). Other notable schools recruiting him are Gonzaga, Baylor, Georgia Tech, and Creighton.

Ismael Massoud is a 6'8, 190 lb forward from Bronx, New York. He's ranked in the top 125 at 247 (124). The other notable schools recruiting him are Georgia Tech, Florida State, Rutgers, and Xavier.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Offseason Post #2

I will admit, I'm enjoying the offseason a little bit. I miss college basketball, but it's nice not to feel responsible to write new content every few days like it is during the season. The grind is real, folks. Anyway, let's focus on a few offseason developments.

1] Obviously, the big news this week was Braxton Key's decision to transfer.







I can't say this comes as a surprise. Transfers have become normal in college sports, and Braxton was at the top of my own list of Bama guys that I thought may transfer. It was a tough season for Braxton. He suffered a knee injury, missed ten games, was rushed back into action (my opinion), and never seemed to find a comfort zone. I think he struggled with his health, his role on the team, and his confidence in dealing with both. I can only speculate but my guess is he looked at the roster for next season and there remained a concern for him about where he would fit in. I do hate to see him go. At full health, Braxton is a very good player, versatile on both ends. The school that lands him will be very fortunate, assuming he can get back to full health. I hope nothing but the best for him.

2] Prior to Braxton's announcement, the team was one over the scholarship limit. The question now is will there be another guy(s) leaving? If recruiting is any indication, the coaching staff may be expecting further changes. Earlier this week the name Dmitry Rivny started popping up on social media.




I'll be honest: I had never heard of Rivny prior to this week. He's Russian. He's only been in the United States for six months. There's also some confusion what class he's in, 2018 or 2019. The tweet I included lists him as 2018, but what little I could find online about him via articles at Bama Mix Tape and HoopSeen suggests he's part of the 2019 class. He's listed as a 6'8 small forward, athletic, with the ability to shoot the deep ball. My guess is the tweet was wrong, and Rivny is part of the 2019 class, which is the next big class for the Bama coaching staff.

3] Recruiting never stops, and the Alabama coaching staff are already looking well into the future. This past week, they offered Keshawn Murphy, a 6'7 forward from Birmingham in the 2021 class. Yes, 2021. In that HoopSeen article I linked above, the author writes "Murphy used this event as a coming out party. Many are not aware of his talent and potential right now, but that will change in a matter of time. There will be plenty of high-major programs involved when it’s all said and done. In fact, excluding the 2019 big three of Trendon Watford, Kira Lewis, and Jaykwon Walton, Murphy may be the best long-term prospect in the state of Alabama. He’s that good and he’s only going to get better.