There is some controversy regarding the graduate transfer rule that was instituted a few years ago by the NCAA. It allows a player who has completed his undergraduate requirements to transfer to a school where he can do further academic work and also be immediately eligible to participate in athletics.
Alabama has benefited from the rule in both football (quarterback Jacob Coker) and basketball, as was made clear when the Crimson Tide men’s basketball team was honored at its annual awards banquet Thursday in Coleman Coliseum.
Bama Coach Avery Johnson presented individual awards to the 2015-16 squad as the players, staff, and student assistants were honored with over 500 fans in attendance.
Arthur Edwards, who transferred to Alabama following his graduation from New Mexico, was named the Crimson Tide’s most improved player. Before Edwards arrived at The Capstone, he had averaged just 2.7 points per game in two seasons at New Mexico. In his one year at Alabama, Edwards averaged 9.5 points per game and led the Tide with 171 three-point shots.
To the surprise of no one, fellow senior Retin Obasohan took home the award as Alabama’s outstanding offensive player. Obasohan led the Tide with 17.6 points per game and was the first Alabama player to average more than 20 points per game in Southeastern Conference games since Buck Johnson in 1985-86.
The Crimson Tide finished the 2015-16 campaign with an 18-15 overall record and made its fifth postseason appearance in the last seven years. Alabama’s 18 wins in Johnson’s first season tied the record for the most wins by an Alabama first-year head coach (Wimp Sanderson, 1980-81).
Alabama knocked off four Top 25 teams, which led the SEC. It was the first time since 2001-02 that an Alabama team recorded four Top 25 victories in the regular season. The Tide also snapped an 11-game losing streak to Florida with its defeat of the Gators on the road. It was the first time Alabama won in Gainesville since Feb. 25, 1995.
The performance of the team was responsible for a big uptick in Alabama basketball attendance as Bama averaged a school record 13,110 fans per game – 22nd in the nation. The Tide also sold out five games on the season, most since the 2006-07 season.
Obasohan and Edwards each received Commitment to Service awards as well. Edwards was named to the Southeastern Conference’s Community Service team this year, and Obasohan received the honor last season.
Donta Hall won the Outstanding Freshman Award while Riley Norris was named the Outstanding Defensive Player. Lawson Schaffer was given the Coach Avery Award, given in recognition of attitude and effort throughout the course of the season. Michael Kessens, along with Obasohan and Edwards, also received special recognition as the team’s departing seniors.
Christian Clark, Jimmie Taylor and Obasohan took home a Student Academic Achievement Award after the trio each earned a spot on the Southeastern Conference Winter Academic Honor Roll.