Stuart McNair

John Pelphrey has assumed important role as Alabama’s top basketball aide

Avery Johnson discusses role John Pelphrey plays on Alabama basketball staff

Alabama Basketball Coach Avery Johnson has someone to talk to. It’s not that Johnson hasn’t had plenty of conversations as he began his first year as a college head coach last season in taking the helm at Alabama, but now he has a head coach on his staff, and that’s a difference.


Following his first season, Johnson added John Pelphrey to his staff as associate head coach. Pelphrey is well known in Southeastern Conference circles from his days as an outstanding player at Kentucky, a longtime assistant on national championship teams under Billy Donovan at Florida, and as a head coach, including four years at Arkansas.


“Being able to talk to him as head coach to head coach has been wonderful,” Johnson said in an SEC teleconference Monday.


Johnson explained that talking to a man who has been a head coach at a high level involves “different levels of decision-making and how that decision will have an impact on the bigger picture. I’ve been an assistant and sometimes you can talk about instant gratification.”


Among other things, Johnson said, is that when you’ve made decisions as a head coach you sometimes make mistakes, and then the coach knows “how in that situation you could change it.”


Johnson said that the addition of Pelphrey had been an excellent fit. “He fit the criteria we were looking for,” he said. “Former head coach, great experience in SEC, won as a player and assistant coach, and did a great job as a head coach. He understands what we are trying to accomplish.”


As a coach he worked a year under Eddie Sutton at Oklahoma State, had two stints at Florida (1996-2002 and 2011-15), was head coach at South Alabama (2002-07) and at Arkansas (2007-11).


He was an outstanding player at Kentucky (1988-92), where he was Student-Athlete of the Year and who has been inducted into the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame and had his jersey retired by UK.


Last year he worked as an analyst for ESPN and the SEC Network.


Johnson also offered congratulations to SEC athletes who have moved on to the NBA, including his own outstanding graduated senior Retin Obasohan, who has signed a free agent contract with the Sacramento Kings.


Johnson just completed his summer basketball camps in which a total of nearly 2,000 young players were on the Alabama campus.

He said the players are finishing up the first semester of summer school and have also been working on the court and in the weightroom in the off season. The only Tide player not participating is Shannon Hale, who is recovering from post-season surgery.


Johnson said that Alabama needs one non-conference game to complete it 2016-17 schedule and that should be announced soon. He promised “another very competitive non-conference schedule.”

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