As most of you reading this likely know by now, Trendon Watford, a 5-star forward and the top player in the state of Alabama in the 2019 class, made his college decision on Monday, choosing to take his talents to Baton Rouge and play for the LSU Tigers. For any Alabama fans angry at this development, let me just remind you that Trendon wasn't likely to come to Alabama if Avery Johnson was still the coach. What once seemed like a sure commitment got away over the last two years as the leadership of the program began to be openly questioned by fans, media and, it would seem, recruits and their families. If Nate Oats had more time to build a relationship with Trendon and his family, I think Alabama would have remained a strong leader for his commitment, but there just wasn't time.
I wish Trendon was suiting up for Alabama next season, but I'm guessing Will Wade made a strong a** offer. It is what it is. In all seriousness, I wish Trendon the best at LSU. He's a great player that is doing what he feels is best for his basketball future, and any sane, rational fan has to accept his decision process. That said, I hope Alabama sweeps LSU next season. Will Wade has quickly become, for me anyways, one of the more loathsome characters in college basketball. The fact he still has a job after the revelations that have surfaced the last few months is further testament to the now open embrace of the rot and corruption at the heart of college basketball, and, if I may be so bold, our society as a whole. One thing is for certain: the game between the two programs in Coleman Coliseum next season should be quite interesting. I suspect the Alabama students will not be kind.
Fortunately for the Alabama program, losing Watford isn't quite as devastating now as it might have been, say, six months ago. That's a testament to how hard Nate Oats and his staff have been recruiting, not just the classes in the years ahead, but the current roster as well. The program suffered minimal roster losses, kept the incoming recruiting class intact (currently ranked 18th in the country at 247, which is fifth best in the league - yet another reminder of how strong the league has become when the 18th best class is only the fifth best in the league), and added a potential impact transfer in James "Beetle" Bolden from West Virginia. I'm a long way from making any predictions about next season, but when you consider the roster in its current form, the expectations for Nate Oats first season may be higher than is typical for a first-year coaching staff.
There's also a very good possibility that Alabama will add at least one more player to the roster. There are currently 12 spots filled on the roster (11 if Tevin Mack elects to remain in the draft) so the coaching staff has one scholarship left to offer. The favorite to accept that offer at the moment is Juco All-American James Rojas from Hutchinson Community College. Rojas is a 6'8, 215 lb forward. He was previously committed to Buffalo, but asked for his release once Oats left.
Another possible addition is Villanova transfer guard Jahvon Quinerly. There are four schools (so far) that he's planning to visit: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Pittsburgh. Quinerly is a former McDonald's All-American so there is a long line for him despite things not working out at Nova, as well as the fact that his name came up during the most recent federal trial regarding college recruiting. His name was mentioned in connection with alleged improper recruiting at Arizona. During the trials, videos that were surreptitiously recorded as part of the FBI's undercover investigation showed former Arizona assistant Emanuel "Book" Richardson requesting money so that he could "facilitate" Quinerly's recruitment. Whether the emergence of that evidence will impact Quinerly or any future school is unknown.
In Other News:
1] Three former Alabama players - Dazon Ingram, Daniel Giddens and Diante Wood - elected to transfer in the offseason, and all three have found new homes. Dazon will spend his final year of college eligibility in Orlando at UCF; Daniel will spend his final season at the University of Vermont; and Diante will also head to the sunshine state and play for Jacksonville University.
UCF was a top 40 team in the country this past season, and appears to be a burgeoning power in the AAC under current head coach Johnny Dawkins. Meanwhile, Vermont was a top 100 program this past season, and has been a steady mid-major in the sport for the better part of two decades now. Jacksonville is more of a work in progress. While the program does have a Final Four appearance (1970), its last NCAA Tournament appearance was 1986. All three guys should be capable of making positive impacts at their new schools. I wish them the best moving forward.
2] In my previous post, I mentioned that Andrew Steele was likely returning to UA to join the new staff. At the time of that post, it was not yet official what his new role would be. I think it became official the following day, but I was on vacation at that point so....yeah, let me reiterate that we don't break news at this blog.
Anyway, it's official now. Andrew will be part of the support staff as the Director of Men's Basketball Video Services. Andrew seems like a standup fella with a bright future so I'm thrilled to have him back with the program.
And here's how the rest of the staff looks so far:
Nate Oats - Head Coach
Charlie Henry, Bryan Hodgson and Antoine Pettway - Assistant Coaches
Mike Snowden - Strength and Conditioning Coach
Adam Bauman - Director of Operations
Josh Baker - Special Assistant to the Head Coach
If you would like more info (bios, email addresses, etc.), check out the UA official site here.