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.
Jahvon Quinerly, the sophomore transfer from Villanova, participated in the practice although his status for the upcoming season remains unresolved.
“Hopefully we can get him this year, but he’s got a good mindset either way,” Oats said. “Our compliance (director) Matt Self is the one handling that. People are still working on his appeal. His parents are here this week and (compliance) has talked with but we haven’t submitted (our information) to the NCAA yet.
“It would be great to get him because we like to play multiple guards and he and Kira can pass, dribble and shoot. If you watched practice, Jahvon’s got a little feistiness with him.”
Quinerly is expected to base his appeal largely on allegations regarding his recruitment by former Arizona assistant coach Book Richardson. At his recent federal trial, Richardson was convicted of fraud but said his earlier claims that he had paid the Quinerly family were untrue. The Quinerly family contends that those allegations created an atmosphere at Villanova that was not conducive to Quinerly’s development.
“Our compliance people are pretty optimistic, just what transpired with him, (but) you never know,” Oats said. “The family was falsely accused and he went through a lot personally, so hopefully the NCAA understands all that. He needs a fresh start.
“Jay Wright (the Villanova coach) has been great, I’ve traded some voice mails with him (and) Villanova says they are going to be supportive on the whole thing so hopefully that help us a little bit.”
Oats also commented on several of the players that took part in the Wednesday skill session.
“Some of the freshmen have a chance to be pretty good,” said Oats, who inherited three freshmen from the previous UA staff and signed a fourth, Raymond Hawkins, in April.
“(Jaylen) Forbes plays with a chip on his shoulder and I like that. Jaden Shackleford (a guard from California) has a college-ready body. I think Juwan Gary has a chance to be an elite defender.
“Raymond came in a little out of shape but he’s working and we think he’s got a lot of upside when he gets there.”
Among the returning players, Oats cited several surprises.
“Alex Reese had (arthroscopic) knee surgery and didn’t go through the spring so the last couple of weeks has been our first chance to look at him. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the first way he plays on the perimeter. He can make plays and he can shoot it. He could play at either the 3 (small forward) or 4 (small forward) for us.
“I think the way we play, the fast pace and coming downhill at you really suits Herb (Jones). He will be handling the ball for us some although Kira is going to have the ball in his hands most of the time.
“I like (Javian Davis) Fleming (a redshirt last season) and how he has worked,” Oats said. “To be honest, when we first got here, I wasn’t sure he was going to make it. He was out of shape and I didn’t know if he would make it through the first few practices but he has really done a 180. He’s lost a lot of weight and he works. He’s a gym rat, one of the biggest gym rats on our team, and I like that. Plus he can shoot it a little bit.”
Jones and fellow junior John Petty also met with the media after the skills session and noted the differences under the new coach.
“It’s a lot faster,” Petty said. “The way he does things, the way he wants things to be done, it’s a lot faster. The style of play is just totally different from last year.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.