University of Alabama senior forward Riley Norris, who missed most of the 2017-18 season after hip surgery, has been granted a medical hardship waiver and will play for UA in the upcoming 2018-19 season.

Norris and Alabama both announced the decision on social media. Norris’ comment on his Twitter account was “Blessed!”

Norris attended the Alabama basketball banquet on Monday night. Alabama coach Avery Johnson said after the banquet that Norris’ return “means a lot” for the upcoming season.

“A team isn’t just one guy,” Johnson said. “It’s a collection of important parts, players who know their role. In terms of attitude, experience and ability, Riley has more of that than any player we could add to our team. He wants to make the NCAA Tournament and be able to participate. He can help us do that.”

Team awards were given to several players at the banquet including Donta Hall (Most Improved Player and co-Defensive Player), Collin Sexton (co-Freshman of the Year, Outstanding Offensive Player and Special Attainment Award), Herb Jones (co-Defensive Player of the Year and Coach Avery Award) and John Petty (co-Freshman of the Year).

Sexton, who has declared for the NBA Draft and signed with the respected CAA (Creative Arts Agency) is in Tuscaloosa to wrap up final exams before going to the NBA Pre-Draft Camp in Chicago. He was among those players in attendance at the banquet.

The departures of Sexton and Braxton Key, and the return of Norris, gives Alabama a full roster for 2018-19, although Johnson said there is “still some flexibility” in the event of a late addition to the 13-man squad.

Norris originally suffered the injury to his left hip last July. After responding well to rehabilitation and treatment, the Albertville native returned to the lineup for the game against UT Arlington on Nov. 21 and has played in all nine games since.

Norris is Alabama’s most experienced player, having played in 110 games throughout his career while making 57 starts. As the only fourth-year senior on this year’s team, Norris is averaging 4.8 points and 2.4 rebounds in 18.4 minutes per contest.

Norris is expected to attend Alabama’s team awards banquet on Monday night.

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or 205-722-0225.

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