ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 11: JaMychal Green #1 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates after defeating the Georgia Bulldogs 65 to 59 in the quarterfinals of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Georgia Dome on March 11, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Huge news this morning for Alabama basketball for next season, per Don Kausler of the Birmingham News:
The star forward made the decision last week. He made the announcement Wednesday after a 79-64 victory over Miami in the NIT quarterfinals, if you can call a few words with Anthony Grant an announcement. No microphone. No cameras. The news never made it out of the Crimson Tide's locker room.
To be sure, there hasn't been tremendous talk of Green as a first-round NBA draft prospect, but given Alabama's history over the past decade, any time an underclassman is named to the All-SEC 1st Team as a junior, you have to be concerned--think Rod Grizzard, Kennedy Winston,.
The importance of having Green back as part of the team next year cannot be overstated. Green was a legit star this year after returning from suspension, and he was a shoo-in for 1st-Team All-SEC. Not only that, but Green has developed as a player and a person tremendously under Grant's leadership, as Kausler's nice article (available via the above link) attests. The young man, who is even younger than many college sophomores due to having a late birthday for a junior, could grow and flourish even more individually with another year in school under the tutelage of Coach Grant.
And of course, aside from Green individually, this news is huge for next year's Bama basketball team, a team that will likely be facing some high expectations from media and fans for next season. With the 1st-Team All-SEC forward now set to return for his senior year, along with Freshman All-SEC point guard Trevor Releford and presumably 2nd-Team All-SEC small forward Tony Mitchell, barring some unexpected attrition the Crimson Tide basketball team will return the entirety of its three-man nucleus for next season. Mitchell certainly has NBA potential, but as of now there are no indications of him being considered a 1st-round pick this year or of him considering a jump. Hopefully the latter part will not change, especially if the former part doesn't.
From a personnel standpoint, Bama's roster for next season is not quite set just yet. Grant is looking to add at least one more signee in the late period this April for the 2011 class, in addition to the four already signed in the early period this past November. There is also the question of attrition that every program faces every offseason. Regardless of how those two personnel factors play out, though, confirmation of the Tide's best player returning for next season is nothing but good news for Bama fans heading into the offseason.
Coach Grant certainly agrees, based on his reaction when Green told him the news (again from Kausler's article):
"He had a big smile on his face," Green said. "He gave me a hug and told me he loved me."