With exactly one week to go until the late signing period begins for the remaining unsigned basketball recruits, things are starting to shape up for Bama's two major targets: Ricardo Ratliffe of Central Florida Community College in Ocala, Florida (originally out of Hampton, Virginia), and Luke Cothron of Flora MacDonald Academy in Red Springs, NC (grew up mostly in Huntsville, Alabama).
6'9" JuCo forward Ricardo Ratliffe, considered by many to be the nation's top JuCo player, recently announced Alabama, Arkansas, and Clemson as his leaders, although a few other major schools are still in the mix as well. However, the recent shocking departure of Clemson coach Oliver Purnell would seem to bolster the chances of the two SEC schools who shared the lead with Clemson. Both Alabama and Arkansas desperately need an elite player like Ratliffe who can come in immediately and be a big factor in the paint in the SEC, so expect both Anthony Grant and John Pelphrey to keep the heat on Ratliffe in the coming days. Also don't forget about other schools like Missouri, Cincinnati, and Florida who are still in the mix for Ratliffe. Whoever lands him will likely get an immediate high-level starter in the post.
"Both of my visits (to Arkansas and Alabama) were good," said the 6-foot-9, 240-pound power forward. "They were nice college towns and the coaches were real cool. They both treated me well. I got to meet the (college) presidents, academic advisors and athletic directors and also hung out with both teams."
"They were real nice," Ratliffe said. "Overall, I enjoyed both of my visits. They put a lot of effort into both."
"[Coach Grant] is real cool," Ratliffe said. "Both (Alabama and Arkansas) are looking for the same thing. They want an impact player that has experience who is going to come in and play right away and contribute."
6'8" forward Luke Cothron, one of the most highly-ranked high school players in the country, recently named his own leaders. Despite offers from several major schools, including Kentucky and Tennessee, Cothron has narrowed his list to Alabama, Auburn, and Marquette. I'd be surprised if Cothron goes all the way up to Wisconsin after showing most of his interest the past year for schools close to home, so this thing very well could come down to Anthony Grant and Tony Barbee's first head-to-head recruiting clash. Both new coaches are working hard to build up the overall talent level, and signing a stud high school player like Cothron could pay huge dividends for either team for years ahead.
"There are several things I really like about Alabama but the biggest is Coach Grant," Cothron told BamaOnline.com in a recent story. "Ever since the first time I talked to him I have really been impressed with what he has to say and the way he runs his program. It also doesn't hurt that Alabama is the home-state team for me and a team I grew up pulling for. I have always liked the fans at Alabama and the atmosphere they can create when things are really going good.
"A lot of people talk about how the fans at Alabama and Auburn don't get excited about basketball but that's just not true. They are just like any fanbase, they love a winner."