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JP: Unbuckled with the foot on the gas — Alabama basketball holds open session

It is very hard not to be excited about basketball.

<p zoompage-fontsize="15" style="">NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Kentucky vs Alabama

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Just as we enter the dread months, where all that sustains us are MLB games, comes some truly great news: Alabama basketball held an open practice yesterday.

And, under new coach Nate Oats, there was a lot to love here, at least from this preliminary glance.

Oats has been rolling with the shade too, overt and otherwise:

University of Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats held an open skills session on Wednesday, allowing the media a first glimpse at the Crimson Tide roster for the 2019-2020 season.

“I like the attitude,” Oats said following the 60-minute session. “We’re getting better. The culture is getting a lot better because the guys know that they’ll actually use what we’ve done in practice.”

Three players listed on the roster released by UA were not present at the workout, all for previously-cleared reasons. Sophomore point guard Kira Lewis Jr. is in Colorado Springs participating in tryouts for the Team USA Under-19 team. Graduate transfer Beetle Bolden is finishing class work needed to graduate from West Virginia and is expected at UA in mid-July. Junior college transfer James Rojas is also finishing classwork this summer.

If you prefer to Gump out visually, then Bama Insider has you covered:

As noted above, three hoops players are not on campus at the moment, and there is a fourth that may or may not be eligible to compete this winter: Five-star guard, Villanova transfer, Jahvon Quinerly. But, there is a lot of optimism that the NCAA will approve his waiver request, and that Q will be active for the 2019-2020 season.

Who knows here what the NCAA will do. It’s basically a crap shoot as to who gets a waiver approval. But, we’re of the general opinion around here that if the transferor school doesn’t object or otherwise gives its blessing to the transferee school, then the waivers are usually rubberstamped in Indianapolis (hey, it’s as good a working theory as any.)

So, the ball’s in your court, Jay Wright.

Switching gears a bit, Athlon’s preseason All-American team was released yesterday, and Alabama led the field with nine selections — only Clemson (with eight) had that strong of a showing:

Juniors Tua Tagovailoa (quarterback), Jerry Jeudy (wide receiver) and Jedrick Wills (offensive line) were the Crimson Tide’s first-team selections on offense, while linebacker Dylan Moses rounded out the Tide’s first-teamers.

The second team honorees included junior running back Najee Harris on offense along with senior Raekwon Davis (defensive line) and junior Xavier McKinney (defensive back) on the opposite side of the ball. Sophomore return man Jaylen Waddle was selected as a second-team punt returner. Alex Leatherwood (offensive line), a junior, was the Crimson Tide’s final of nine selections on Athlon’s preseason list, being tabbed to the fourth team offense.

I still think the corners on this team are being woefully ignored: Trevon Diggs was easily having an All-SEC season before his injury last year. Should he stay healthy, I predict he will absolutely be picking up some hardware in December — and it won’t at all be a surprise to those of us who paid attention, like you beautiful people.

There is a lot of offseason speculation about Tide players in the NFL, with several former ‘Bama stars projected to have breakout seasons.

NBC Sports has its Top 5 breakouts for 2019, and two of the five wore Crimson and White — O.J. Howard and Levi Wallace (Go Bills). RE: OJ —

His overall PFF grade last season was 89.4, higher than any other tight end outside of San Francisco standout George Kittle. And on a yards per route basis, he was third behind only Kittle and Kansas City star Travis Kelce. His average depth of target was 11.3 yards downfield, a top-five mark in the league, and now the vertical threat he brings is being linked up with new Bucs coach Bruce Arians and an offense that lives down the field.

Good data crunching by NBCSN and a fine collab with PFF here; it’s hard to fault their reasoning.

Gather ‘round chilluns, and lemme tell you a story about one of the most dominating trio of skills players in NFL history: the Dallas Cowboys Emmitt Smith, Michael Irving, and Troy Aikman.

In 2019, the ‘Boys are looking to recapture that magic with a new trifecta:

They say history repeats itself, and we could be looking at a rerun in Dallas.

The Cowboys of the nineties were lead by three future Hall of Famers Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin on offense. An accurate passer, elite level runner and a clutch receiver. Now the modern-day version is lead by three top-shelf players in their own right. Dak Prescott has won more games than any quarterback since 2016 not named Tom Brady. Ezekiel Elliott has two rushing crowns in his first three years. And Amari Cooper is a multiple time pro bowler and one of the best receivers in the game. The similarities, however, don’t end there.

The similarities do end there — that Cowboys dynasty also had one of the best offensive lines in NFL history, another perennial pro-bowler at WR2, one of the best multipurpose tight ends of recent vintage, a deep backfield that included a crushing automatic first-down at FB, a legendary coach, and a bevy of all-pros on the defense.

But, it’s nice that Amari is getting the praise, huh?

While the Seahawks are mired in a halfway fire sale on defense, one player that is not on the chopping block is Jarran Reed, a very high priority for Pete Carroll:

While Bobby Wagner is drawing all the attention, the Seahawks could turn attention to their other extension candidate – defensive tackle Jarran Reed, who is set to become a free agent after the 2019 season.

Brock Huard, speaking on 710 ESPN on Tuesday morning, highlights a few reasons why he thinks the Seahawks should try to get a deal done with Reed before they focus on Wagner.

Completely unrelated to anything we’ve covered today, but Josh McCown’s farewell piece in the Player’s Tribune is outstanding — there’s nothing at all wrong with having a “journeyman career.” McCown is a class act and one of the last of a dying breed.

DYK: He began his career by handing the ball off on Emmitt Smith’s final touchdown, and threw threw Larry Fitzgerald’s first touchdown?

Seventeen years is an eternity in the NFL.

Finally, really far afield, but it’s hard to not love Baker Mayfield sparking up the flamethrower and setting alight to Texas and Sam Ehlinger — sometimes you have to say the quiet part out loud: He’s a choker.

Mayfield was asked about the perception in preseason publications that Texas is back and could contend for a national championship.

”They said the same thing when they beat Notre Dame a couple of years ago, and they won like three games after that,” Mayfield said. “I’m sick of that crap.”

* * *

”He couldn’t beat Lake Travis, so I don’t really care [about] his opinion on winning,” Mayfield said. “Westlake is a great program, but the two best quarterbacks to come out of there are Drew Brees and Nick Foles. Sam can stay down there in Texas.”

”That will stir the pot,” Mayfield added. “He doesn’t like me, and I hope he knows I don’t like him either.”

Good old fashioned hate right there.