Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The future of Alabama basketball

As we close out a mostly enjoyable 2005-2006 season, let’s look ahead to next year. What will our roster look like? As excited as we must be about our future after returning the nucleus of this year’s team, I am suddenly sobered by the breakdown of our roster by class. Let’s take a look:

Jermareo Davidson

Ron Steele

Brandon Hollinger
Alonzo Gee
Richard Hendrix

Yamene Coleman(RS)
Mikhail Torrance
Justin Tubbs
Avery Jukes
Verice Cloyd(I'd say 60/40 that he gets accepted)

This leaves 3 additional scholarships. If you count the 2 early commitments for 2007, that leaves 1 scholarship. Of course, the decision of Jermareo on his future is a huge wildcard and hard to predict at this point. One thing seems clear to me…we would benefit from signing another post player in the late period. If Jermareo stays, let the late signee and Avery Jukes battle it out for who fits into the rotation and who takes the Yamene Coleman path of redshirting(thank goodness CMG stuck to his guns on that plan). If Jermareo leaves(I think we all can agree this is a very real, if not likely, possibility), we have another big man to potentially provide depth next season along with Jukes behind Hendrix and Coleman. I think we are going to sign one, but no more than 1 player in the late period. That leaves the other scholarship for Jermareo and/or to be used in the class of 2007. That means with Jermareo staying and 1 signee in the late period, we’ll have 2 upperclassmen and 11 total players on scholarship. If Cloyd doesn't get in, I suspect we'll wait to sign someone in his place in next year’s class and go into next season with 10 on scholarship. If Jermareo leaves and Cloyd doesn’t make it to T-town, we’re suddenly back to 9 scholarshipped players and 8 if we don’t sign a player in the late period. Dizzy yet?

Looking at this roster is another sobering reminder of our problems in the 2003 and 2004 classes. Our best case scenario is to have 2 upperclassmen on scholarship and there’s still a real possibility that we’ll have 8 on scholarship next season with 4 being freshmen and 1 an upperclassman. How many other top-25 programs are in that situation??? In my view, this is blemish on CMG but leads to an amazing feather in his cap that he was able to do so much in a similar situation this season. And while I believe upperclassmen are important, we still stand to have a great team next year. It’s amazing how different things will look with Jermareo and without Jermareo.

Who would we sign in the late period? The two most prevalent names being mentioned are Jason Bennett, a 7’2” Center prospect from Jacksonville, Florida(reportedly down to AU, Bama & Michigan) and Demetrius Jemison, a 6’6” PF prospect from Birmingham’s Huffman High School(Rivals lists 7-8 schools with medium interest from Demetrius and none are Bama, though it is thought Bama is still very much in the picture and would be tough to beat if they offer). There has also been mention over the past 6 months that our staff is keeping an eye on some JUCO prospects, which might make sense considering our upperclassmen issues and the fact that post players tend to be less physically ready to contribute as freshmen. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

I, for one, am highly skeptical that we’d sign a JUCO player. We haven’t done it much under CMG and save the mixed results from Jean Felix, haven’t benefited much from JUCO players over the past 8 years.

That leaves us three options in my view:
1) sign Jason Bennett
2) sign Demetrius Jemison
3) sign nobody.

CMG could care less what this fan thinks, but let’s chalk one vote up for option 2. A 6’6” PF that is in all likelihood, 6’5”….Have I lost my mind? Perhaps. Nevertheless, I believe Jemison is an ideal signee for the Tide. When you are evaluating, I think you would look at immediate impact and upside when looking specifically at the talent component. My assessment(granted my Bennett evaluation is based on internet film) is that Bennett probably has a greater upside but Jemison is more likely to help immediately. Jemison has good strength and is a quick leaper. He can give us 8-10 minutes per game next year and be every bit as good if not better than Evan Brock was this year. Considering our current situation, I think immediate impact carries some priority over upside/project. Nevertheless, I’m still willing to call those two variables a wash. That leaves us with intangible items, which are the deciding factor for me.

Intangible item #1: Jemison gives GREAT effort all the time. He’s constantly after loose balls and has a nose for getting rebounds. He’s a very self-motivated kid that, pardon the football term, has a motor that runs all the time. I think this is a key attribute for kids playing under CMG. We have done our best when we have these types of kids. This is a big part of the reason I want Jemison. Intangible item #2: The kid is from Birmingham, Birmingham City Schools. We need to re-establish this pipeline. Playing for Alabama will likely mean more to a kid from Birmingham than a kid from Jacksonville. I think this is also a reason to favor Jemison. Who does Jemison remind me of? How about Demarre Carroll of Vanderbilt. I’ve seen that comparison drawn and I like it. Carroll has been a solid contributor at Vandy and we certainly could have used him this year. We didn’t offer him and I agreed with that assessment by CMG, but let’s not make that mistake again with Jemison. Let’s get him. He’ll make a difference for us.

Here’s to the future, as bright yet uncertain as it is.



bobbyjack said...

(Note- the blog I'm responding to is not myself).
Well written and thought-provoking. My thoughts:

I'm not worried about our youth. It's the face of today college roundball. I would like to have more experience, but hey... Syracuse won the National title with a 2 freshman and a sophomore.

I like Option 1. Having a big man to clog the hole would be Awesome and would free up RH inside. If he's 1/2 as good as Stephen Hill of Arkansas I say bring him on. We have the offensive weapons already... even if JD declares. A big man in the middle could actually help our perimeter D (read stay out and guard the 3).

WL said...

As a follow-up, there is an interview with Jemison that was released today on one of the Bama sites. Demetrius and his parents had a great visit to Tuscaloosa yesterday. Coach Gottfried was their host and apparently did an excellent job with them. He has an unconditional offer and has narrowed his list to Bama and Baylor(the team that has been recruiting him the longest). He said he's scheduled to visit Baylor around April 7th, but could cancel the visit. In fact, it is expected that he'll probably commit to UA within the next week.