Newcomers Help Bama Basketball

With one full scrimmage Saturday and another partial one Wednesday night under his team's belt, Alabama Basketball Coach Anthony Grant is beginning to like what he sees from his newcomers.

Alabama Basketball Coach Anthony Grant joined other coaches and players at this year's Southeastern Conference Media Days event in Birmingham Thursday.

"We have five freshmen right now, that are in the mix every day at practice," Grant said. "Their actual roles are yet to be determined. I'm excited about the roles that they will play. Overall, I'm pleased with their willingness to learn, and they're trying to understand what will be demanded of them by me; and really the way they are getting ready to play the upcoming season against unfamiliar opponents (as opposed to against each other at practice). They are learning what I expect of them, what our style of play is, and how hard they need to play.

"I wouldn't begin to tell you I have any conclusions as to where we are. Our rotation is a work in progress, and, overall, I'd say I'm pleased with everybody on our team -- the newcomers and the returning guys. They're all doing the things we are asking them to do."

Grant said he had no updates since he told the media last month that there was hope that junior college transfer Moussa Gueye might be able to come back in January. When asked about next month's early signing period, Grant said, "We are going to have to wait and see what happens. We are recruiting some guys who plan to sign early, and some guys who plan to sign late (in April). Whether or not we have any early signees is yet to be determined."

Though Grant did not name names, one new player Tide fans (and players) have high expectations for is freshman guard Trevor Lacey from Huntsville's Butler High School. Among that group is senior forward JaMychal Green.

"Trevor Lacey is coming along real well," Green said. "He's going to be a playmaker, and a big part of this team. He knocks down wide-open shots. He can pass the ball real well. He's got a bright future ahead of him."

Another newcomer who will likely have to log important minutes due to Gueye's knee injury is freshman forward Nick Jacobs of Atlanta. Green, who goes against Jacobs each day down low, likes what he's seen so far.

"Nick Jacobs is going to be scoring down low for this team," Green said. "I feel like he's going to have a great year. He's getting better and better every day. He's going to get better and better, and he's going to be a low post player that you're going to have to double-team.

"All the freshman are coming on. They seem to be getting better and better every day. They're trying to get a feel for what Coach Grant wants. Once they get a feel for our style of play, they'll be more comfortable, and I think they‘ll all have great years."

Two goals going into the 2011-12 season were adding depth and outside shooting. Green feels the recruiting class of 2011 will do both. "I believe we are deeper at guard, and I believe all our new guards are capable of getting playing time," he said. That list includes Lacey along with fellow freshmen Levi Randolph, Rodney Cooper and Retin Obasohan.

Green added, "I think it's a point for us to knock down more outside shots to open up things in the paint for me and the other ‘bigs.'" He went on to say that all the new guards, "along with myself, Tony Mitchell, Trevor Releford and Charles Hankerson,." All those players canned at least one trey in Saturday's open scrimmage.

Green, a consensus all-league player, said he agrees with the assessment made by many that sophomore 6-5 guard Hankerson is the team's most improved player, and Green knows why. "He didn't go home (to Miami) this summer. Hard work all summer. He stayed here, worked out, got in shape, and it's paying off."

The Crimson Tide will continue daily workouts before hosting the University of Alabama-Huntsville chargers in an exhibition game November 7. Though Grant's not naming names yet, an educated guess at a starting five that night would be Releford and Hankerson at the guards, Green and Mitchell down low, and either Lacey, Randolph or Cooper as a wing player.

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