Sunday, April 10, 2016

Let's Talk About Recruiting

We promised more recruiting coverage to our loyal readers. Unfortunately, I think I speak for all of the writers here when I say we have been engrossed with real life. As a result, posts have been few. We hope to improve that as spring gives way to summer. Okay, let's get to it.

A quick note: The recruiting posts I write will only center on the next incoming class (2016). Avery Johnson and his staff are busy recruiting 2017 and beyond, but until those recruits commit I don't see much relevance in writing about classes that will not play a part in the next Alabama season. I will say that the 2017 class in the state of Alabama looks very promising with multiple 5 and 4 star recruits. If Avery is able to put that "fence around the state", we will have some exciting times to look forward to in the years ahead.

The addition of John Pelphrey to the staff, who replaces Scott Pospichal, was notable. Pelphrey brings a wealth of experience to the bench. He has served as an assistant and head coach in the SEC. On the surface, it's a great hire. And you have to give a guy props who gave Retin Obasohan the nickname, "Belgian Bulldozer".

When it comes to the 2016 class, the majority of the work has been put in. Unfortunately, the jewel of the class in the minds of many, Terrence Ferguson (5 star, 6'7, 180 lb SG) decommitted from Alabama, and it appears any chance of landing him is officially kaput. There are a handful of high school recruits that the staff are pursuing, along with a handful of impact transfers, which has become as significant to the recruiting process as landing prized high school recruits.

Let's look first at the guys we know will be in Tuscaloosa next season. Ar'Mond Davis (6'6, 175 lb, SG) is a 4 star top 10 Juco recruit from the College of Southern Idaho. Davis led the team in scoring at 16.8 ppg, while finishing 2nd in rebounding with 6.6 rpg. His shooting percentages: 44.6% FG, 37.8% 3-pt and 81.1% from the free throw line. A very versatile player who can play 2-3 spots on the floor, Davis is going to compete for a rotation spot from day one. The other incoming recruit is Braxton Key (6'8, 220 lb, SF), a 4 star top 75 ranked recruit from Oak Hill Academy where he averaged 13.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 3.9 apg., 2.4 spg and 1.3 bpg.  Braxton ended his high school career on a high note by leading his Oak Hill team to the national high school championship. In the process he was named the tournament MVP. He has the potential to develop into a star player in the next four years for Alabama. 

Two transfers who sat out this past season will now be eligible for the 16-17 season. Avery Johnson, Jr. (5'11, 187 lbs, PG) is of course the son of the head coach. AJ Jr. was ranked a 3 star guard coming out of high school, originally signing with Texas A&M where he played sparingly as a freshman. Once his father was hired by Alabama he transferred to Tuscaloosa. Avery will likely compete with Dazon Ingram for point guard duties. Nick King (6'7, 225 lbs, G/F), a transfer from Memphis, is a former 4 star high school recruit. King will have the opportunity to play impact minutes next season, maybe even start. In two years at Memphis, he averaged 6.0 ppg and 4.0 rpg. His shooting needs to improve (40% FG, 25% 3-pt and 63% FT in his final season at Memphis), but there was positive buzz from those who watched King in practice so I'm keeping my fingers crossed he's an impact guy from day one.

Despite a solid 10 scholarship roster for next season, Avery and his staff do not appear to be finished recruiting the 16 class. Again, a positive that this staff has done is try and max out their scholarship limit to avoid the depth issues that consistently plagued the Anthony Grant teams. Here are some possible additions to next season's team.  

Christian Vital (6'2, 164 lbs, CG), a 3 star recruit from Forest Hills, NY was originally committed to UNLV before a coaching change there led him to consider other options. Vital announced a top 5 list at the end of March, which included Alabama. Other schools that made the list: Uconn, Iowa, Marquette and Louisville. Avery Johnson visited Vital personally so the staff obviously thinks highly of him. Louisville and Uconn are the expected leaders at the moment, but I think this remains a wide open recruitment.

Kalif Young (6'9, 250 lb, F/C), is a 3 star recruit from Ontario. Yes, Canada. In recent years the country has produced high level basketball talent. The latest was Jamal Murray at Kentucky, who just happened to be a teammate of Kalif Young at Orangeville Prep in Ontario. It's been more difficult than I thought to get reliable stats on the Orangeville roster (the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Associations website only listed 12 games of the Orangeville schedule). Based on those 12 games, Kalif averaged 6.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg and 1.3 bpg. He seems like a player who will need time to develop his game and get his body right, but this team needs post depth, and Young can provide that. Kalif is scheduled to visit Tuscaloosa on April 19th. He has two more visits planned, at Providence and Marquette.

Here is a youtube video featuring a game between Oak Hill (Braxton Key #3) vs Kalif Young (#13) and Orangeville Prep:


The staff is also pursuing several transfer players.

Dylan Osetkowski (6'9, 255 lbs, PF) is a Tulane transfer that averaged 11.3 ppg and 8.3 rpg . He is listed as one of the top 10 transfers by ESPN. He's only scheduled two visits (Texas and Arizona) so he seems like a long shot.

Avery Woodson (6'2, 196 lbs, SG) is a Memphis transfer that averaged 9.6 ppg and 43% from 3-pt. He's scheduled visits to Butler and VCU so he may also be a longshot.

There are probably other transfers being considered, but those are the only two uncommitted players I've read that are being recruited by Alabama. The current number of players that are transferring is in the 400-450 range. Last season there were over 700 players that transferred so the transfer market remains a fluid one.

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