Often lost among the start of Major League Baseball and the playoff runs of the NBA (and to a lesser extent, the NHL) is National Signing Day for college basketball. Unlike NCAA football, basketball has an early signing period and most recruits sign during that time frame. For the next wave of hoopsters that date was November 11, 2015. Wednesday is the beginning of the "Regular" signing period that will last until May 18.
* Note that not all recruits will sign today. Bouncey-ball takes a more laid-back approach to NSD than the frantic pace of their football cousins.
During the early signing day, the Crimson Tide netted two well-regarded additions:
4-stars, Oak Hill Academy (Mouth Of Wilson, VA) SF, 6-8/220
Originally from Nashville, Tenn., Key spent his senior season at the powerhouse hoops
academy factory machine Oak Hill and led them to a high school national championship (MNC?). He was named the playoff MVP after scoring 20 points in the final game. The strong forward is a consensus 4-star who averaged 20.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists as a junior at his Nashville high school. This past season at Oak Hill, he averaged 13.1 ppg, 3.9 apg, and a team-leading 7.9 rpg and 2.4 steals per game on a team with six major college-bound seniors, four 4-star junior prospects, and two 4-star sophomores.
Josh Gershon, national recruiting analyst for Scout.com:
"Braxton projects as a good four-year player for Alabama. He’s an undersized four that can potentially play some three who plays hard and impacts the game in multiple ways. On offense, (Key) is comfortable facing the basket or posting up. He’s got a good feel and is a talented passer for the position. (Key's) motor and instincts make him a productive rebounder. He’s not necessarily a super high-ceiling guy, yet he’s a winning player whose versatility and basketball IQ should help make him an important piece to the puzzle in Tuscaloosa."
(ED. NOTE: Key recently changed his surname from "Blackwell" to "Key".)
Eric Bossi, the national basketball recruiting director for Rivals.com:
"I think that Braxton Key is a versatile addition and potentially the rare forward who can help to ease the ball handling burden of the guards. Key can play as either a big three or a matchup problem four man and his biggest strengths are his abilities to create for himself and others with his dribbling and passing out of the high post and from the wings. He’s a good defender, good athlete, good kid and another strong addition for Avery Johnson."
He chose the Tide over Vanderbilt, Texas and Kansas.
4-stars, College of Southern Idaho (Rogerson, ID) SG, 6-6/175
After scoring 26.3 points per game as a senior for his Tacoma, WA high school, Davis led his junior college team in scoring and was second in rebounding as a sophomore with 16.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. In what should be music to the ears of Tide fans, Davis was 90 of 111 (.811) from the charity strike. He was 85 of 225 (.378) from beyond the 3-point arc, a percentage that was higher than all but one Tide player (Arthur Edwards .394) from this past season.
Davis came from a rough upbringing and has profited from going to junior college. There is a nice piece on him at NBCSports.com.
247sports ranks him 4-stars and the nation's #8 juco prospect. He has two years of eligibility remaining. Originally Davis committed to Memphis, but he backed out of the pledge to reconsider his options. He chose the Tide over Texas A&M, Texas, and Memphis.
With the recent transfer announcements of Justin Coleman and Michael Kessens, the Tide has two extra roster spots. By my count, Bama has eight scholarshipped players plus the two mentioned above. The maximum number of athletic scholarships allowed is 13, leaving the Tide with three available.
At this point with most high school seniors committed elsewhere, Coach Avery Johnson could possibly go the juco, transfer, or international route. However, there are a few uncommitted high school prospects that are being targeted and the Tide is thinking BIG.
3-stars, Orangeville Prep (Mono, Ontario) C/PF, 6-9/220
Being from "North of the Border", little is known about this post-player other than what you can see in the video below. Canadian recruiting site topprospects.ca says "Kalif Young is a shot blocking forward that passes the ball extremely well for his size. Kalif Young has all the tools to compete at the next level."
He will officially visit Providence April 15, Alabama April 19, and Marquette April 28.
3-stars, 22 Feet Academy (Greenville, SC) PF, 6-7/215
This Quitman, Miss. native had been a long-time Mississippi State commit but then Bullies head coach Rick Ray was fired in Starkville. Hicks decommitted and new offers came rolling in. Either he does not like new coach Ben Howland or vice versa, because MSU is off his list.
"Hicks is very strong, very explosive and at 6-7 (at most) is able to compensate for less-than-ideal height with power and athleticism. He projects as a versatile defender, high-efficiency finisher and someone who has the body to battle inside from day one on campus."
"Strengths: Right now Hicks is a true power forward who with development could spend some time on the wing. He's a big time athlete, and is strong and physical. Good straight line driver with obvious strength to finish through contact at the rim. He also shows some shooting range to 17..."
(ED. NOTE: The rest is behind a paywall and I just gave a bunch of money to Uncle Sam.)
Providence may be the team to beat.
3-stars, St. Thomas More (Oakdale, CT) SG, 6-2/175
Coach Johnson paid a visit to this combo guard's Queens, NY home in March. The departure of Justin Coleman likely figures into this late push.
"Strengths: Vital is extremely competitive and plays with a major chip on his shoulder. He refuses to back down from anyone, will defend bigger guys and raise the level of those around him. He is a good three-point shooter who can both make them in bunches as well as in ..."
(ED. NOTE: paywall, taxes, empty wallet...)
The former UNLV commit is reportedly down to Alabama, UConn, Iowa, Louisville, and Marquette.
5-stars, DeSoto High School (Dallas, TX) C, 6-10/250
This may be pie-in-the-sky fantasy but Bama has not been eliminated yet and Johnson has the Texas ties. However, the nation's number one center and top 20 overall likely goes to Duke or Kentucky.
OFF THE BOARD
Terrance Ferguson - This long-time 5-star Bama commit changed his mind in March and looks like a lock to Arizona.
Bruno Fernando - The Tide recently hosted this 6-10 center on an official visit but he later committed to 75-year old Larry Brown at Southern Methodist.
With the losses of guards Retin Obasohan and Coleman, there could be a late out-of-the-blue push for a guard to back-up Dazon Ingram.
Current Bama walk-on and fan favorite Lawson Schaffer could possibly be awarded with a scholarship for his sophomore year if Johnson does not fill his allotment.
Keep those seat belts fastened. We will update this post as news rolls in.