Juco All-American forward James Rojas received word over the summer that he had academically qualified to enroll at Alabama and be eligible for the 2019-20 season. Alas, it is not to be:
“We are disappointed to lose James for the season,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said. “I feel terrible for him and his family because he was excited to be on campus and contribute to our team. We are fortunate to have an outstanding medical team at the University of Alabama that will be alongside him every step of the way during the rehab process and we are looking forward to having him for two seasons beginning in the 2020-21 season.”
This is just awful for James. Many of us were very excited to see what he could bring to the table as a stretch forward who had shown versatile scoring ability, including strong marksmanship from behind the arc, in the junior college ranks. He was likely to play the “stretch four” role that is so common today, able to play facing the basket on offense while guarding the other team’s power forward on the other end.
Unfortunately this leaves the Tide a bit thin in the frontcourt, at least in terms of experience. Alex Reese seems likely to get the bulk of the minutes at the four, a spot that he was to share with Rojas. Galin Smith is probably the projected starter at center, but he could also play power forward next to true freshman Raymond Hawkins when he enters. Massive redshirt freshman Javian Davis-Fleming has reportedly slimmed down and will likely figure prominently into the mix. Outside of those four players, you have walk-on Tyler Barnes and the potential for Herbert Jones to slide down in a smaller lineup.
This is a shame for James and the team, but there is still plenty of reason for optimism and he does have a redshirt year available. May he make a full recovery and enjoy a productive career.