As you have probably been hearing, Crimson Tide football recruiting is putting together a potentially historical class for 2019. If Alabama was not such a big football school, the activity going on over at Coleman Coliseum might be making bigger headlines. But they could be soon enough.
Two years ago, Coach Avery Johnson put together a class for the ages that included Collin Sexton, John Petty, Herbert Jones, Galin Smith, and Alex Reese. This year, he is hoping to duplicate that feat. He has has gotten off to a good start with two big commitments for 2019 and a few other potential pledges to come.
Juwan Gary **** F 6’5”/200 Columbia, SC, Committed on 7/13/18.
247sports comp ranking No. 67, Rivals ranking No. 70.
Johnson ventured into enemy territory and swiped this forward right from under the noses of South Carolina and Clemson. Other finalists included NC State and Virginia Tech. The pedigree of the Tide head man is what won Gary over.
“He (Avery Johnson) played in the pros and got a ring with the (San Antonio) Spurs and was coach of the year a couple of times,” Gary told The Wolfpacker. “He prepares players to be pros. It might take one year, two year or three years, but he wants everyone to come out a pro.”
Current Alabama player Tevin Mack, who is also from Columbia, SC, gets an assist on this commitment.
“It felt like home. Coach Avery (Johnson), Coach (Antoine) Pettway, Coach Ya (Yasmir Rosemond), they all made me comfortable. Seeing one of my own brother’s up there, Tevin Mack from the same area I’m from, seeing him there enjoying the process, enjoying the vibe of the coaches and players and the fans ... it just felt like home. Me and my family had a very good time. They’ve got everything set up for you with academics and basketball. Everything is not that far, it’s all right there. Alabama felt like home to me.”
With a 6-foot-11 wingspan, Gary excels at both ends of the court. He averaged 20.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game as a junior last season. Recently at the prestigious Nike Peach Jam tournament, Gary averaged 17.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
Diante Smith **** F 6’7”/195 Fort Walton Beach, FL, Committed on 7/4/18.
247sports comp ranking No. 116, Rivals ranking No. 120.
Smith has flown a bit under the radar but moved from three stars up to four stars this summer behind some strong showings at recent AAU tournaments. Alabama assistant Yasir Rosemond has had a long relationship with Smith going back to the days when “Coach Ya” was with UGA.
Smith averaged 17.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.3 blocks and 2.3 steals per game for his high school last season. He had a 56.0 percent shooting percentage with 41.0 percent from three-point land.
He chose Bama over LSU, TCU, Florida and Dayton among others.
With these two commitments, Alabama’s class jumps to No. 7 in the country, according to 247sports Composite Team Recruiting Rankings.
Much like football, the talent pool for in-state prospects for 2019 is much improved. The first two players mentioned below are teammates this summer on the Georgia Stars travel team.
Trendon Watford ***** F 6’8”/224 Mountain Brook, AL
247sports comp No. 14, Rivals No. 14.
Technically, this young man is a forward. However, he could play any of the five positions on the floor at any given time. He can hit the three as easily as he can posterize some poor slob. He is a threat from anywhere on the floor and can shoot with either hand. Watford is blessed with an elite skill-set well beyond his years and good body size similar to that LeBron guy at the same age. His wingspan has been measured at 7’4” and he has big hands.
As a junior, Watford averaged 23.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.2 blocks and 1.7 steals per game while claiming the second state championship in a row. He was named Birmingham Male Athlete of the Year beating out Auburn QB commit Bo Nix.
He has many many offers but appears to be down to Memphis, Alabama, and Indiana. As long as he does not fall for the B.S. that spews out of Penny Hardaway’s mouth, the Tide has an excellent chance of landing him.
Kira Lewis ****½ G 6’2”/160 Hazel Green, AL
247sports comp ranking No. 29, Rivals No. 28.
“Kira The Quick” has the kind of game Tide fans have come to love in that he is an attacking slashing guard who has elite speed with the ball in his hands and excellent quickness. He is a combo/guard that can easily transition from the point to the two.
Lewis was the Class 6A Player of the Year last season after averaging 28.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.9 steals
He is zooming up the rankings and should land a solid fifth star before the early Signing Day (Nov. 14-21). Lewis also has offers from Indiana, Louisville, and Kansas among many others but the Tide is a heavy favorite for his signature. Hopefully, Watford takes a shine to playing with Lewis.
Jaykwon Walton **** F 6’6”/196 Carver-Montgomery, AL
247sports comp ranking No. 60, Rivals No. 53
Walton is another Alabamian having a good summer. He has bulked up from 175 pounds earlier in the year and bulked up in the rankings, skyrocketing from the low 100s after leading his team to the 6A state championship. He had had 23 points, seven rebounds and converted three crucial free throws in the final 48 seconds to clinch a three-point victory for Carver.
This wing forward is very athletic, long, smooth and a consistent scorer. He is considering Alabama, Missy State, and UGA and others. He too has several offers including Auburn, Memphis, Florida, and Louisville.
These three rising seniors represent the top three recruits from the Yellowhammer State as well as being the top three targets of the Crimson Tide.
- James Wiseman ***** C 7’0”/210 Memphis, TN - The nation’s top player is a real longshot but Alabama is still on his list.
- Austin Crowley **** G 6’4” 165 West Point, MS - Currently at an academy in Bel Aire, KS. Considering Alabama, Ole Miss, Miss State and others.
- Kobe Brown ***½ F 6’7”/220 Huntsville, AL - The state’s No. 4 player is borderline 3-4 stars, right about where Herbert Jones was two years ago. Bama is the favorite but he doesn’t have an offer as of yet. The Tide will likely take him if the numbers work out. [No offense to the kid but let’s hope they don’t work out...]
With the two commitments, the Crimson Tide theoretically have filled 12 of their allotted 13 scholarships. If one or more Alabama players go pro or transfer between now and the start of the 2019-2020 season (likely), that opens up more scholarships. Some have speculated that Herbert Jones could be a first round candidate for the 2019 NBA Draft. John Petty has been predicted by some to go in the second round. If two underclassmen leave, this 2019 class could add three more to go with Gary and Smith.
Potential 2019-2020 Roster
- Juwan Gary F Fr.
- Diante Smith F Fr.
- Jared Butler G So.
- Javian Fleming C So.
- Diante Wood G So.
- Alex Reese F Jr.
- Herbert Jones G Jr. *
- John Petty G Jr. *
- Galin Smith F Jr.
- Daniel Giddens F/C Sr.
- Dazon Ingram G Sr.
- Tevin Mack G/F Sr.
* Possible early NBA entry?