26 April 2010
It was a day of major change for Anthony Grant and the Alabama men's basketball team. After hearing virtually nothing from the program since the conclusion of the season, Grant had a press conference today where several big announcements were made.
The biggest surprise from today is that Senior Justin Knox is leaving the program. The center from Tuscaloosa will graduate next month, and will play his final season of college ball elsewhere. He'll take advantage of the fact an NCAA rule that allows post-graduate players to transfer without penalty, so he will be eligible to play next season. Justin averaged 6.3 points and 3.7 rebounds in 19.3 minutes per game last season. While those numbers are not huge, he was one of Bama's few post options, and his size will be missed.
In an attempt to replace that, there was the announced signing of Jason Carter - a 6'8 power forward from Texas. Carter was considered by most to be a prospect for next season, because it looked as though he was headed to prep school. Some late quality work in the classroom made him eligible to play this upcoming season, and he quickly appeared on the radar for a lot of schools. He committed to Bama just a few days ago, with the Tide beating Ole Miss for his signature.
Also signing with Bama in the late period is Junior College combo guard Kendall Durant. He's the cousin of NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant, but that's about as far as the comparisons go. He is considered to be a viable option at both the point guard and shooting guard positions, which should come in handy for a team that likes to run. With both of Bama's point guards from last season graduating, Bama needed to quickly develop depth at the position. With only Ben Eblen returning, Bama added both Durant and Trevor Releford at the position. Releford signed in the early period along with Charles Hankerson, who is expected to play the shooting guard and small forward positions.
So, if you're watching the roster, you can subtract Mikhail Torrance, Anthony Brock, Justin Knox, and Greg Cage. With the return of two injured players who missed last season, you can add Demetrius Jemison, Andrew Steele, Trevor Releford, Charles Hankerson, Kendall Durant, and Jason Carter.
Hopefully this will be the last of the basketball roster news for a while, because there have been rumors floating around Tuscaloosa regarding one of Bama's leading scorers from last season and a potential violation of team rules. Let's hope that those are just rumors and we won't be seeing any announcements of the negative variety prior to the beginning of practice in the fall.
Also announced today was the juggling of coaching duties. Antoine Pettway will be moving from an assistant coach position to the director of basketball operations position. Tony Pujol was the director of basketball operations last season, and he'll be moving into an assistant coach spot. Pujol was an assistant for Grant at VCU, so there is an experience level there that should help. Grant referenced Pettway's age and relative inexperience when giving the reasons for making the move, though he was also quick to point out that Antoine is well on his way to developing towards his ultimate goal of becoming a head coach.
This is a busy time for Coach Grant and staff, as they are already heavily at work on the recruiting class for the next two years. Basketball recruiting is done well in advance of where football recruiting is done, so it is important for this staff to develop relationships quickly. There are positive signs on that front, as the Tide has been mentioned recently by several national level recruits from outside of the south. While the south does produce a number of quality basketball players every year, Grant was able to help build back-to-back national championship teams at Florida with his ability to recruit nationally. Watch for Bama to head that direction over the next two recruiting classes.