Friday, July 27, 2018

2018-19 Non-Conference Schedule Released!

A few hours after my last post, the 2018-19 non-conference schedule was released. Ah, my timing, as always, is impeccable.

First glance: I'm not sure this is a top 25 ranked non-conference schedule like last season, but it's a sturdy schedule that, along with what looks like a tough SEC, should put Alabama in position to build another quality resume for tournament consideration in March. Some marquee names (Arizona and Baylor, along with Purdue and Wichita State in the Charleston Classic), some up-and-coming programs (UCF, Penn State and Virginia Tech in the Charleston Classic), and some really good mid-major programs that could all be tournament teams in 18-19 (Murray State, Georgia State, Stephen F. Austin as well as Northeastern and Davidson in the Charleston Classic).

Here's something interesting to note: Former Alabama players Justin Coleman (Arizona) and Devin Mitchell (Georgia State) will return to Coleman Coliseum this season for what I'm sure will be meaningful games for them.

An exhibition game will be scheduled prior to the start of the season, but an opponent has yet to be named.

Here is each opponent with their final KenPom ranking from last season:

Southern (326)
Appalachian State (208)
Northeastern (96)
Virginia Tech (33)/Ball State (173)
Purdue (5)/Wichita State (21)/Davidson (43)
Murray State (62)
at UCF (111)
Georgia State (101)
Arizona (28)
Liberty (184)
Penn State (19)
at Stephen F. Austin (112)
at Baylor (34)

What are your early predictions? I'll go with an early prediction of 10-3. We're 102 days away from the start of the season. Buckle up!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Offseason Post #9

Number 9, Number 9, Number 9, Number 9, Number 9....

It's time for another exciting offseason post full of news and notes that you have likely already read or heard about. Thank you to those that continue to visit the site anyway. We don't love you, but we really do like you a lot.

Let's get the bad news out of the way first. Diante Smith, the 4-star G/F that was the first commitment of the 2019 class has decommitted from Alabama three weeks after he committed on July 4.

No reason was given for why Diante made this decision, and I'm not going to speculate. I wish Diante well moving forward. Meanwhile, the recruiting wheel continues to spin. More about that in a moment.

We received more news regarding the non-conference schedule on Wednesday when Jon Rothstein tweeted that Alabama will begin a home-and-home with mid-major power, Stephen F. Austin. The first game will be played this season in Nacogdoches, TX on December 30.

SFA won 28 games last season, won the Southland Title, and made it to the NCAA Tournament. They return their top three scorers so they are expected to be good again. This is a unique home-and-home that Avery has scheduled (you typically don't see power conference teams schedule home-and-homes with mid-majors), and it's a road game, particularly in the midst of the holiday season, that will be a difficult one for the team. The good news is that, assuming SFA is as good or better than they were a year ago, this is a great opportunity for a quad one or two win, and not a resume crusher should the team fail to leave Nacogdoches with a win.

Here's how the non-conference schedule currently looks:

Nov. 11 - Appalachian State
Nov. 15-18 - Charleston Classic
Nov. 29 - at UCF
Dec. 9 - Arizona
Dec. 21 - Penn State
Dec. 30 - at Stephen F. Austin
Jan. 26 - at Baylor
TBD - Murray State (my guess is this will the Rocket City Classic game)

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 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)