In four seasons of change and occasional uncertainty in University of Alabama basketball, there’s been one constant behind the Crimson Tide bench – the family of Crimson Tide center Jimmie Taylor, cheering the team on from their seats behind the Alabama bench.
That scene will play out for perhaps the final time in Wednesday night’s game between the Crimson Tide and SEC opponent Ole Miss, as Taylor will suit up for the final home game of his Alabama career.
“It’s quite a feeling,” Taylor said on Tuesday. “It’s a bittersweet moment. It went by kind of quick, and I’ll miss it. I love our fans. It’s close to home (in Greensboro) and my family is always right there. I’ll miss that, too.”
Taylor, a lifelong Alabama fan and a cousin of former Crimson Tide star Erwin Dudley, will play in his 128th consecutive UA game against the Rebels, the second-longest such streak (behind Levi Randolph) in UA history. He needs two blocked shots to reach 200 for his career and become the sixth Alabama player to reach that milestone.
Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said Tuesday that he and Taylor have been close since the day Johnson took the job – almost.
“I love Jimmie Taylor,” Johnson said. “He embraced me from Day One…no, that’s not right, from about Day Five. I remember the first day Coach (Bill) Battle introduced me to the team, Jimmie kind of looked at me like ‘who are you?’ He’s not always the most bubbly guy. But when we sat down and had our one-on-one conversation, he opened up and he has been fun to coach.
“He’s worked hard and done everything we’ve asked him to do, even when he didn’t understand all our reasons. He’s improved this year. We’ve worked with hm in using his right hand more on offense and he has improved on that.
“Jimmie’s a straight country boy. But he loves Alabama, loves this school and loves this state. I love him and his family.”
Two other seniors – graduate transfers Bola Olaniyan and Corban Collins – will also be honored in senior night ceremonies prior to the Ole Miss game.
The Crimson Tide’s game against Ole Miss could have a major bearing on the seeding for next week’s SEC Tournament for both teams. Alabama is tied with the Rebels in the SEC standings at 9-7, and Wednesday’s winner will have a one-game lead and a tiebreaker over the loser.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0225