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Alabama Basketball: Avery Johnson Cleans House

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The newcomers outnumber the returning players. And Johnson may not be done just yet.

Big Al approves.
Big Al approves.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Alabama's Avery Johnson has yet to coach a single college basketball game and already has washed away many memories of his predecessor, Good Ol' Whatshisname.

The Crimson Tide has seen an overhaul of an unprecedented level with only six players returning from last year's team.

The newcomers to the Crimson Tide basketball team now officially outnumber the returning scholarship players from last season's team. Johnson put a cherry on the top of this recruiting sundae by adding 4-star Kobie Eubanks. Even with the good class he put together in limited time, he also added a graduate transfer in former New Mexico Lobo Arthur Edwards. Amazingly enough for Tide fans, he may not be done!

For the first time in years, Alabama will use it's full allotment of 13 scholarships. It is enough to make a person wonder if the coming campaign won't be a "rebuilding year", rather more of a year "competing for a top four spot in the SEC year".

RETURNING SCHOLARSHIP PLAYERS

# Name Pos Ht./Wt. Rising Year Hometown (Last School) Comments
11 Shannon Hale F 6-8/226 JR Johnson City, Tenn. (Christ School) Former SEC All-Freshman went through a January swoon before picking up his play in February but a recurring foot injury ended his season.
32 Retin Obasohan G 6-1/208 RS SR Antwerp, Belgium (K.A. Redingenhof) Showed some explosiveness; scored double-digits in eleven of last twelve games.
1 Riley Norris G/F 6-7/207 SO Albertville, Ala. (Albertville) The numbers defy the value he brings to the team. Hustle and heart.
10 Jimmie Taylor F 6-10/240 JR Greensboro, Ala. (Greensboro) The biggest guy on the team needs some proper coaching on being a big guy.
3 Michael Kessens F 6-9/223 JR Nyon, Switzerland (Longwood University) Another big man, started the season strong but saw his minutes shrink; needs to find his role.
5 Justin Coleman G 5-10/160 SO Birmingham, Ala. (Wenonah) Showed some brilliant flashes but needs court discipline; shot 25.9%.

DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT

  • Ricky Tarrant - grad-transfer to Memphis (his third college; whatevs)
  • Devin Mitchell - transfer to Georgia State (good luck now that R.J. Hunter is gone)
  • Jeff Garrett - transfer to Northern Kentucky (redshirt reunited with former Grant assistant John Brannen)
  • Dakota Slaughter - grad-transfer to Texas-PanAm (former Bama walk-on)
  • John Gibson - ? (former Bama walk-on, no longer on the roster)

NEW GUYS

23 Brandon Austin G 6-5/180 FR Montgomery, AL (Carver-Montgomery HS) 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists, four steals, 1.5 blocks per game
35 Donta Hall F 6-8/205 FR Luverne, AL (Luverne HS) 23 points, 19 rebounds, 12 blocks per game
12 Dazon Ingram G 6-5/185 FR Theordore, AL (Theodore HS) 21 points, 11 rebounds, five assists per game
0 Nick King G/F 6-7/225 JR Memphis, TN (U of Memphis) 7.2 points 4.8 boards per game as a sophomore at Memphis; Will redshirt.

Avery Johnson Jr.* G 5-11/182 SO Houston, TX (Plano West/Texas A&M) 13 games played, 18 points scored during his frosh season; Will redshirt.

Kobie Eubanks G 6-5/212 FR Fort Lauderdale, FL (Elev8 Sports Institute) Consensus 4-star Top 100 player

Arthur Edwards
G/F
6-5/210
SR
Temple Hills, MD (New Mexico)
Grad-transfer
2 Lawson Schaffer G 5-11/160 FR Cullman, AL (Cullman) Preferred Walk-on; averaged 21.4 points, 7.7 assists and 7.0 rebounds per game as a senior

* It is unclear at this time if Avery Johnson Jr. will be on scholarship or not. There is potential that being the son of a U of A employee, he may be privileged to a free ride. The other possibility is that Avery Sr. would pay his way. If either of these concepts come to fruition, it could free up another roster spot.

A POSSIBLE BOMBSHELL

There have been whispers that another Memphis Tiger may be heading to Tuscaloosa as well as Nick King. After some wrangling with U of M, the Tigers AD finally granted Austin Nichols a requested release. The junior forward averaged 13.3 points and 6.1 rebounds last season for the Tigers. CBS reports that the conditions of the release were that Nichols did not transfer to "any American Athletic Conference school, any school on the Tigers' future schedules and/or Tennessee, Providence, Iowa or Virginia." Some of the teams on the Tigers' future schedules includes Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss and South Carolina.

If Nichols were to choose the Crimson Tide, the 2016-2017 team would be one to be reckoned with.

A BREATH OF FRESH AIR

For the last two seasons, the Tide had 11 players on scholarship.* Last season, Jeff Garrett redshirted leaving the Tide with 10. The season before Kessens and Tarrant  had to sit out after transferring in, putting the number of available players at nine.

So far, Johnson has done everything right as the new head coach of the Tide. He understands the need for depth in the SEC and is using every resource available to him.

There are genuine reasons for Bama Hoops fans to feel optimistic about the future of the program.

[* Did you ever see that episode of "The Office" where Steve Carrell's character discovers that he gets a bonus if his division has a surplus and returns it to the company? I often wonder if Anthony Grant had a similar agreement: don't use all of your scholarships and you get a bonus! Inexplicably, Grant would not use his full allotment of 13 scholarships often leaving the team shorthanded. I could never understand why he would not at least use one on a juco player, even if it was for a bench player.]