With most college basketball recruits having already signed in the early signing period back in November, only a few select recruits are still available for the late signing period, which begins next Wednesday. Alabama has already inked four very good prospects in the early period, and we plan to profile each of those players individually in the coming days and weeks here at RBR.
Technically, with those four signees, Alabama has filled its allotment of scholarships for next year (the max in basketball is 13). However, at this point it is appearing likely that Kendall Durant, the JuCo signee who missed all but 6 games this season with a foot injury, will no longer be part of the program. In fact, he may already no longer be part of the program, as he hasn't been seen on the team bench since almost December. However, there has still been no official confirmation as to his status from the coaching staff.
Questions have also been raised about the status of freshman forward Jason Carter, who did not play in the NIT and did not travel with the team to New York City. Again, absolutely nothing concerning his status has been indicated by the coaching staff, but his absence on the team's trip has to at least make one question his status moving forward.
At any rate, it is likely that at least one, and perhaps two spots will be open to add additional signees in the late period, and the coaching staff is recruiting accordingly. Of course, the big name on the tip of every Bama fan's tongue since the early signing period wrapped up in November has been Trevor Lacey, who was recently named as one of the top 10 high school players in the nation as a first-team Parade All-American. The 6'4" guard is known as one of the best all-around scoring guards in the country, and is considered to be one of the two most sought-after players in all of college basketball for the late signing period.
Lacey, a Huntsville native, has offers from pretty much everyone under the sun, including Kansas, UConn and Kentucky. It is the latter-most school in that list that many feel is the favorite to land Lacey's signature here in a little over a week, but John Calipari will have competition from both in-state SEC schools, as Alabama and Auburn are obviously both working hard to try and sign him.
For a while now, many experts have felt it was coming down to Alabama and Kentucky as the top two in Lacey's recruitment. However, a Don Kausler report last week stated that "the latest indications are that Lacey will choose between Alabama and Auburn." That report was then countered with later a report from Kentucky website A Nation of Blue, which claims to have talked to Lacey himself and confirmed that Kentucky and Alabama were still his top two, and that he was not considering Auburn. Most national recruiting gurus likewise seem to think that he will decide between John Calipari and Kentucky, and Anthony Grant and Alabama. Some go even further to say that the decisions of Kentucky's current players, particularly star guard Brandon Knight, to stay in school or enter the NBA Draft, could influence his choice. While this line of thinking seems to make sense, it also appears to be purely speculation at this point.
At any rate, Lacey is expected to announce his decision soon after the late signing period opens next week. Lacey has been the most talked-about recruit for Alabama basketball in quite some time, and for good reason. Not only is he one of the top players in the nation, but he also would give the Tide exactly what it needs for next season: a true perimeter playmaker who can shoot, score and give the offense a much-needed spark. He has been the biggest story recruiting-wise during this season, and will likely continue to be so if he indeed chooses to sign with Bama--and if he qualifies.
All along during the process, Lacey has been in severe danger of failing to meet NCAA clearinghouse standards, and that is probably the biggest reason he did not sign with a school in the early signing period. Wherever he signs, fans of that school will be holding their breath until the decision comes down from the NCAA as to his eligibility status for next season. If he does ultimately fail to qualify, or if he signs with Kentucky--or somehow with Auburn in the greatest basketball recruiting coup of all time--missing on him won't change the fact that Grant already has two elite perimeter players signed for the 2011 class. Getting him on the roster next season though would make Bama's bullish projections for next year start to really rattle the hype meter.
Until this week, Lacey has seemingly been the Tide's sole target for the late period for the 2011 class. However, Rivals' Jerry Myers reported today that 4-star guard Kevin Ware, a Tennessee signee in the early period who was released from his Letter of Intent following the firing of Bruce Pearl, has re-opened his recruitment and is considering Alabama, among seven other schools that have likewise offered him. Like Lacey, Ware is also a 6'4" guard, but he is more of a slasher and doesn't have the outside shot or overall offensive polish that Lacey has. At this point, he still has to be considered somewhat of a long-shot with seven other schools in the mix, but nevertheless it's interesting that the coaching staff is apparently keeping all options open to bring in additional talent to Tuscaloosa for next season. Ware may not announce his decision until near the deadline on May 18th.