With so much uncertainty facing the sporting world, is Alabama basketball in an uncertain spot as well?
That might be a reasonable question after Herb Jones, the hard-hat heart and soul of the 2020 team, especially when healthy — there’s a fair hypothetical argument to be made that Alabama’s resume for the NCAA Tournament (and hence the frustration of Crimson Tide fans when the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 virus) would have been much better had Jones not been injured in late January.
Now Jones has announced he will join fellow Crimson Tide players Kira Lewis III and John Petty Jr. in “testing the waters” of the NBA Draft. That process allows players to be evaluated and decide whether to return to school by May 29, although given the current environment of uncertainty, that date is extremely subject to change.
“First and foremost, I would like to give all the glory to God,” Jones said on his Instagram account. “With Him, all things are possible. To my family: I cannot put into words how much your love and support means to me. You have and (will) continue to always be there for me no matter what. To my teammates: what can I say? You all have had my back through the good times and the bad. Thank you for your support and continuing to push me even when I didn’t think I can be pushed any further. To the Alabama staff: I cannot tell you how much you have done for me throughout my playing career. For as long as I can remember, my dream has been to play in the NBA. With that said and after much thought and discussion with those close to me, I have decided to enter my name in the 2020 NBA Draft Process while maintaining my eligibility. I am excited to take this next step in reaching a dream that I’ve had since I first learned to dribble a basketball. Thank you all to Bama Nation for your love and support.”
It’s a sensible move for all three players. For juniors Petty and Jones, the move is essentially a free evaluation and a chance to have all the information possible before making a decision. Lewis is a sophomore although no one ever projected that he would stay four years at Alabama when he signed out of Hazel Green High School. His name is routinely mentioned as a first-round pick in the 2020 draft and if evaluations support that, he’s likely to go that route. (While Alabama head coach Nate Oats would love to have Lewis back, having him go in the first round could translate into a long-range recruiting benefit.)
Oats was not immediately available for comment but did discuss Jones in his media teleconference last Tuesday.
“I think Herb, with all the injuries he’s had (a hyperextended elbow and a fractured wrist both affected his playing time this season), I think he needs to come back and have an unbelievable year for us, and then I think he can play his way into something really good.”
In the end, the three players and their families will make the decision. All three have different backgrounds and are at different levels in their on-court progression. All three deserve this chance and at this juncture, it doesn’t mean the sky is falling on the UA program.
Reach Cecil Hurt at @firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @cecilhurt