As the basketball offseason has been progressing, there have been quite a few developments off of the court for the Alabama basketball program. Anthony Grant and his staff have been hard at work with recruiting, and Coach Grant has also made some changes within his coaching staff. Tony Pujol, an assistant for Grant dating back to his VCU days, has been let go, though the reasoning for his departure is still somewhat unclear. However, it wasn't long before Grant made a move to replace Pujol.
As you may have heard by now, Alabama has hired Reggie Witherspoon as a new assistant coach. Coach Witherspoon is most well known for his most recent stint as the head coach of the Buffalo Bulls. Witherspoon went a combined 198-225 over the course of fourteen seasons with the Bulls. The Bulls never won the MAC outright or played in the NCAA Tournament during his time there, but they did make the NIT in 2005 after a 23-10 season, which was a tremendous turnaround for a program that had been nothing short of dreadful for many years. They also appeared in the CBI tournament in 2009 after they tied for first in the MAC, and the CIT in 2011 and 2012.
Witherspoon took over at Buffalo during a terrible time for their program. The Bulls were a dreadful basketball team, and the previous coach committed multiple NCAA violations that put the program even further behind. Despite that, Witherspoon was able to win the MAC Coach of the Year award in 2004. He became the face of Buffalo basketball, and was able to climb up to a tie for second in Buffalo's all-time wins list. However, after a disappointing 2012-13 season, Witherspoon was let go. Many speculators believe that new Athletic Director Danny White wanted to make an impact on the program by bringing in his own guy. Bobby Hurley, White's eventual hire, did lead Buffalo to a 19-10 season this past year.
Early indications are that Coach Witherspoon will be mostly focused on player development and recruiting, so don't get your hopes up that he will turn around our offense this upcoming year. That will be on Coach Grant and the players to get right.
The guys over at Bull Run, SB Nation's blog for all things Buffalo Bulls, have a good article up on Witherspoon. They will know a lot more about him then I do, so head over there and ask them any questions about our new assistant basketball coach.
The other major developments in Bama Hoops are recruiting related. Firstly, Alabama wrapped up this year's recruiting class with one last signee, F Jeff Garrett. Garrett is a consensus three star product originally out of Gadsden, AL, though he played his senior season at Oldsmar Christian in Florida. At 6-7, 210 pounds, Anthony Grant will be getting a legitimate low post player, as Garrett averaged 18.3 PPG and 10.1 RPG this past season, good enough to place him third-team all-state. He was ranked as the 58th power forward in the country, and he should help add some depth in the post. He has already signed his LOI, and will be eligible for this upcoming season. He is probably looking at being one of the last guys off of the bench this season, as he still needs to improve his game and get some quality experience. However, the guy has great length and can really fly.
Anthony Grant did miss out on one of the top few players left in this year's recruiting class, as fellow three star F Jackson Davis signed with Butler over the Crimson Tide. Davis is another power forward with strong potential, and it would have been nice for Alabama to have grabbed a pair of post players with the late signing period, but this is still a very good recruiting class. The Tide currently sits at 24th in the country and 4th in the SEC according to 247sports.com's latest composite rankings.
Lastly, Grant was able to land a big commitment for the class of 2015, when four star F Donta' Hall gave his verbal commitment last week. Hall is a 6'8 shot blocking star out of Luverne, AL. During his junior season, Hall averaged 11.7 PPG, 10.1 RPG, and an astounding 6.7 BPG. Hall has tremendous length and could become a huge win for Grant in next year's class. He needs to bulk up, and his competition in Alabama's 2A classification isn't exactly stellar, but he has all the tools to be a staple in Alabama's frontcourt down the road. He joins three star Gas the second commit in the class of 2015.
As is clear from Grant's recent recruiting efforts, help is on the way in the post, which is an area that the Tide has struggled in recent years, especially on the offensive end. Garrett and Hall should be big for us down the road in building a strong frontcourt.