There have been several questions about how the recruiting process is going and where we stand. Due to a number of factors, information on basketball recruiting, especially for a school like Alabama, is not as well publicized as for our football counterparts. I hope to be able to shed a little bit of light on the overall process, numbers and dates involved, and mention a couple of prospects rumored to have some interest in Alabama.
First of all, the NCAA limits Division 1 men's basketball programs to 13 scholarships per year. Scholarship players returning next year include:
1. Charvez Davis
2. Ben Eblen
3. JaMychal Green
4. Senario Hillman
5. Chris Hines
6. Justin Knox
7. Tony Mitchell
8. Andrew Steele
9. Demetrius Jemison.
So, that leaves us with 4 available scholarships. Also, sometimes you may not sign up to the full limit if you are holding out a spot for prospects in the coming years. This particular class is considered to be very weak for in-state recruits. However, this year's Junior class is one of the strongest. There could be 3 or 4 blue chip prospects coming out of the state of AL next year, but with Davis, Hillman, Hines, Knox, and Jemison all being Seniors next year, we should have plenty room even if we add 4 guys this year.
Unlike football, basketball has two signing periods. There was an early signing period from November 11-November 18, 2009, and the regular signing period will be from April 14 through May 19, 2010. Two players signed their letters of intent to play for Alabama in the early period: Trevor Releford and Charles Hankerson.
Trevor Releford, a 5'11 point guard from Kansas is rated a 4 star by Rivals. From all reports, he is a wizard handling the rock with great quickness and athleticism. His shot likely needs some work. Scout ranks him as the #11 point guard in the nation. He also had offers from Oklahoma, Missouri, and Tennessee. We will likely be counting on him to come in and start at the point guard position as a true freshman. There has been some discussion that he may not qualify. For now, let's assume and hope that he does, otherwise we will desperately need to sign another point guard.
Charles Hankerson is a 6'5 210 lbs shooting guard from Miami, FL. Rivals rates him as a 3 star and the number 128 player in the nation. He is a great shooter, averaging 36.9 PPG. From everything that I have read, it sounds like he is very strong and physical with the ball for a wing man, but does not rely on his quickness or foot work much. He also had offers from auburn, Virginia, and Tulane. He can probably help us out at the point some, but he will primarily be a 2 guard, and hopefully another scoring threat.
So, now we are up to 11 scholarship players assuming no attrition and Releford qualifies, which leaves 2 spots open. Here are some of the guys we are rumored to be interested in:
1. Ricardo Ratliffe is a 6'9, 226 lb center from Central Florida Community College. Rivals rates him as a 4 star and he averages 25.6 points per game. Many consider him the top JUCO prospect in the nation. He has stated that he wants to go where he can showcase his skills for the NBA. Arkansas is probably our main competition here. It appears that they are going to hang on to Pelfrey for at least one more year, but a coaching change in Fayetteville would have greatly helped our chances. He also has offers from Cincinnati, Missouri, and Clemson.
2. Luke Cothran is a 6'8 210 lb Power Forward from Red Springs, NC. He was committed to NC State but decommitted about a week or two ago. He is originally from Huntsville. Rivals ranks him as the #8 power forward and #33 player overall nationally. Kentucky is also recruiting him, so you know how that goes. If Kentucky decides they don't need him, I think we've got a great shot at landing him. He's a big man with good moves that can run the floor, so I think he would be a good fit in Coach Grant's system.
3. Josh Langford is a 6'6 210lb small forward from Huntsville. ESPN calls him the prototypical SF for a pressing and running team. Sounds like a good fit for Coach Grant's system. He was previously committed to Louisville but reopened his recruitment. Georgia, auburn, and clemson are all also in the mix, but he is not expected to qualify academically.
4. Jalen Steele is a 6'3, 165 lbs SG from Knoxville, TN. He was previously committed to auburn, and is considering re-opening his recruitment since Lebo got fired. He was Mr. Basketball in the state of Tennessee averaging 27 points and 13 rebounds per game. UCLA, Georgia, Miami, and Cincinnati have all shown interest. It will be interesting to see who auburn hires and how it affects his recruitment.
5. Majok Majok, a 6'7 225 lb Power Forward from Northfield, MA is rated a 3 star by rivals. Honestly, I only included him because of his name. He does list us as a school that he is interested in, but as far as I can tell his only offers are from Fordham and Harvard.
Another possibility is Travis Releford, Trevor's older brother who plays for Kansas may be looking to transfer after seeing very limited playing time with the Jayhawks for 2 years. Maybe he will want to come play with his brother.
Keep in mind this is by no means a comprehensive list. I am sure the staff is recruiting people that nobody has any idea we are even interested in. These are just the names I have heard and read about as possibilities. I would really like to get Ratliffe and/or Cothran. If we were able to sign more than two, I would think and hope that Ben Eblen would be encouraged to transfer. If Releford can live up to the hype and we can sign one of those big men, we could be a pretty decent team by the end of the season next year.