University of Alabama men’s basketball coach Nate Oats had plenty to talk about when discussing the Crimson Tide’s 2020-21 recruiting class on a post National Signing Day teleconference Thursday.
But could there be…more?
Oats didn’t guarantee anything but at least dropped a tantalizing hint when asked about UA’s five-man group of new players for the coming season.
“Are we done recruiting for 2020?,” he said, repeating a media question. “We’re almost done. Look, I think we’ve got most of what we looked at. I think if there’s a no-brainer that pops up or if there’s just somebody that we’ve been heavily involved with — and again, you’re not allowed to comment on any kids until they sign, so I can’t comment on anybody outside of the five that we signed. But I would say we’re almost done, and if these are the five that we got, we’re ecstatic about the five that we got.”
Even with five newcomers, there has been some seismic movement on Alabama’s roster. Along with those five, Alabama currently returns seven players who saw game action last season: Kira Lewis, John Petty, Herb Jones, Jaden Shackelford, Alex Reese, Galin Smith and Javian Davis. Additionally, there are three players on the roster — point guard Jahvon Quinerly and forward James Rojas and Juwan Gary — who were on scholarship but did not play last season.
That is 15 players, even with the graduation of guard Beetle Bolden and the decision of two others, Raymond Hawkins and Jalyn Forbes — to enter the NCAA transfer portal. With an NCAA limit of 13 players, Alabama is awaiting the decisions of Lewis, Petty and Jones, all of whom are testing the NBA Draft process with the possibility of returning.
“I think they’re waiting on information,”Oats said of the three players with pending decisions. “Maybe everything’s slower just because there’s no workouts going on. Maybe it all got sped up initially because the season was over sooner than it should’ve been, but now, there’s just not a whole lot of new information. They’ve played all the games they’re going to play. They can’t work out for anybody. They’ve gotten all their background data or they’re still in the process of getting it. So, I think until we actually get a draft order from the NBA and a time when the draft’s going to be, it’s going to be hard to get a whole lot of new information.
“Kira’s leaning more towards being a first-round lock. But his family has got a decision to make, based on the information they’re getting. They’ve got to decide whether he’s staying or going. We want to do what’s best for each kid, and what’s best for each kid isn’t always the same for each kid. That’s more of a personal, family decision they’re going to have to make, and when they’re ready to make it, I think they’ll let everybody know what they decide to do.
“With Petty’s situation, I thought he had a really good year. I think he’s back on NBA teams’ radar. But first-round picks are guaranteed money; second-round picks are not. Some early second-round picks, they do give them guaranteed contracts. I think it’s one of those deals where if you’ve got guaranteed, you should probably go. If you don’t, in my opinion, you probably shouldn’t
“John and his mother are pretty smart people that, I think, will make a good decision. I don’t think they know what they’re doing yet. Honestly, I think they’ve got to get more data. And I’ve talked to Herb and his dad both. His dad’s a high school coach. They’re not going to make a dumb decision. I think we’ve got to give that a little bit more time.”
Oats said Reese, who has had intra-team discipline since a mid-March misdemeanor arrest in Tuscaloosa, is “on track” with fulfilling obligations and remains a part of UA plans for 2020-21.
“He’s taken care of the academic part,” Oats said. “I think he’s coming along. Again, this is hard not being there in person. But from everything that we’ve asked him to do remotely, he’s done so far.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @cecilhurt