UA Men's Basketball Adds Three Signees

Both Kentucky and Alabama are in the nation's top 25 on early basketball signees after the week-long early signing period for winter and spring sports got underway Wednesday. The Crimson Tide signed three players and does not anticipate any additional signees in the early period. Bama will have 13 players on scholarship next year barring something unforeseen.



"We're really excited by the three we signed," Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said Wednesday afternoon.

The Crimson Tide is ranked 24th in the nation in men's basketball recruiting with the acquisitions of three guards -- Justin Coleman of Wenonan High School in Birmingham, Riley Norris of Albertville, and Devin Mitchell of Collins Hills High School in Suwanee, Ga. All are top 100 national players who will join the team for the 2014-15 season.

Alabama has only one senior, All-Southeastern Conference guard Trevor Releford. Bama is playing short-handed by two scholarships this year and also has two transfer players who are practicing, but not eligible for games this season.

Coleman, a 5-10, 160-pound point guard, helped lead Wenonah to a 34-2 record during his junior season in 2012-13. Under the direction of Coach Cedric Lane and led by Coleman's play on both ends of the floor, the Dragons captured the 2013 Alabama 5A state championship and finished the year nationally-ranked. Coleman was all-state after he averaged 20.3 points, 7.7 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 4.2 steals per game last season.

Coleman is Scout.com four star who is ranked 18th in the nation at his position.

Grant said Coleman "is a true point guard. What you want is a guy who can make the game easier for his teammates." The coach said he expected Coleman to "impact the program from Day One."

"There is no other place like The University of Alabama," Coleman said. "I am excited to get there and most excited about the players I will be playing alongside. I am looking forward to helping take the program to the next level under Coach Grant."

Mitchell will come to Alabama after a standout career at Collins Hill High School under Coach Eric Nathan. During his junior season, the 6-4, 175-pound all-state shooting guard led all Gwinnett County players with 20.2 points per game, while also averaging six rebounds and three assists a contest. In addition, he connected on 42 per cent of his three-point attempts. The highlight of his junior season came when he scored a school-record 41 points in the finals of the Gainesville Tournament.

The four-star athlete by Scout.com was ranked 22nd in the nation at his position.

Grant called him "a tremendous shooter who brings options to the team." The Tide coach also commented on Mitchell's leadership attributes.

"Excited is the word that comes to mind," Mitchell said. "I can't wait to start going to school there and I am really looking forward to playing with the guys on team and for the coaching staff. Coach Grant is a great coach and has the program on the rise. I am looking forward to being a part of the success of Coach Grant and Alabama basketball."

Norris is a 6-7, 190-pound shooting forward who plays under Coach Patrick Harding at Albertville High School. Coming into his senior year, Norris ranks third on the Alabama High School Athletic Association's (AHSAA) all-time leading rebounders (1,428) list. He is 393 rebounds shy passing the AHSAA's all-time leader – former Alabama player Richard Hendrix (1,820). In addition, Norris is currently 16th on the AHSAA all-time scoring list with 2,450 points during his high school career.

During his junior season, Norris averaged 22.4 points, 12.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists on his way to first-team all-state honors, as well as being a finalist for the 6A Player of the Year honors. Norris was also selected to the Huntsville Times' Elite First Team, which encompasses the best players from all divisions in the state of Alabama. He is listed as a four star recruit by Scout.com and ranked 27th in the nation at his position.

Grant said Norris "brings a tremendous skill set. He can play inside our outside. He has a high basketball I.Q."

"Alabama was a good fit for me," Norris said. "I think coach Grant and the rest of the staff will do a great job developing me as a person and a player. The academic side was also an important aspect for more. The better I can do off the court, the better my future will be once the ball stops bouncing. I am excited to be a part of The University of Alabama and the basketball team."

In addition to the signees, transfers Ricky Tarrant (Tulane) and Michael Kessens (Longwood) will also be eligible to suit up for the Crimson Tide next season. Both Tarrant and Kessens are able to practice with the team this year, but cannot dress out for games due to NCAA transfer rules.

Alabama missed out on one in-state target. William Lee, a 6-8 inside player from Dallas County Vocational in Selma, was expected to sign with Alabama-Birmingham.

Kentucky was ranked first in the nation in early period men's basketball signings by Scout.com.

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