The University of Alabama basketball program, somewhat unexpectedly, added a national Top 40 player to its 2020 recruiting class on Sunday when 6-11 forward Alex Tchikou announced via social media that he had committed to the Crimson Tide over Arizona, Florida State and Illinois, among others  


 Before reclassifying, Tchikou, who came to the USA from France, was the No. 40 player in the 2021 class and No. 10 power forward, per 247Sports composite rankings. He has been projected as a Top 35 player when recruiting rankings are adjusted for his reclassification. The 6-foot-11 forward recently moved to the United States from France and now attends Dream City Christian in Glendale, Arizona. Before that, he attended Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nevada.


 “Alex really has a guard mindset, a guard skill level,” Dream City coach Kyle Weaver told Kentucky-based recruiting reporter Larry Vaught last February. “He works a lot on his ball-handling and being able to create shots off the dribble rather than depending on his size alone to score.”


Alabama currently has 13 players, the NCAA-mandated limit, on scholarship for the 2020-21 season. The Crimson Tide is still awaiting a final decision from rising senior John Petty, the team’s leading 3-point shooter last season, as he considers foregoing his final season to remain in the draft.

 Alabama head coach Nate Oats cannot comment specifically on Tchikou until UA receives his letter of intent. Oats did address Petty and  the scholarship limit last month

  “Right now, we’re operating as if he’s going to come back,” Oats said. “I think that’s the only way you can operate. But as the coaching staff tries to figure out how we’re going to play, we operate as if he’s not coming back, and then if he does come back, it’s a pleasant surprise.”

 Other than the possibility of Petty, Alabama currently has four players who played last season: forwards Herb Jones and Alex Reese, post player Javian Davis and Freshman All-SEC guard Jaden Shackelford. Three additional players sat out in 2019-2020: forwards Juwan Gary and James Rojas, both with knee injuries, and point guard Jahvon Quinerly, a transfer from Villanova who was not granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA.

 The five newcomers, in addition to Tchikou, are forwards Keon Ambrose-Hylton of Toronto, Ontario, and Darius Miles of Washington, D.C., via IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., guards Keon Ellis of Florida Southwestern Community College and Josh Primo, also from Toronto, and graduate transfer Jordan Bruner, a 6-foot-9 graduate transfer from Yale, where he was an All-Ivy League performer.


 Reach Cecil Hurt at or via Twitter @cecilhurt