Alabama Head Basketball Coach Mark Gottfried gave a brief presentation following the lunch in the private dining room at Cypress Inn (the upstairs "Crow's Nest" overlooking the Black Warrior River). But before he did, he and his staff joined media types for lunch. It was my good fortune to be at a table with Cecil Hurt and David Wasson of the Tuscaloosa News, John Pruett of the Huntsville Times, and Jimmy Smothers of the Gadsden Times and Gottfried. So we got a few details that weren't shared with the entire group.
There isn ‘t any blockbuster news, but some could be on the way.
Gottfried expects the NCAA to rule "any day" and certainly "within the next week or two" on the status of Genesis One, the school in Mendenhall, Mississippi, that was among the large number of non-accredited schools being examined for legitimacy. Gottfried agrees that if the school is not legitimate then Verice Cloyd, the 6-3 guard Bama signed out of that school, should not be eligible.
But Gottfried is passionate when he points out that if the NCAA does rule the school to be eligible and that if Cloyd does make it through the NCAA Clearinghouse that there should be no question as to whether he should be admitted to Alabama. Gottfried could easily toot his own horn when it comes to graduating men's basketball players, but he choose instead to use examples of signees who have come from disadvantaged situations to earn University of Alabama degrees.
Gottfried has noted that The University has a long history of accepting students who are not from accredited schools, including home schooled and international students, but also from religious schools. And though Genesis One is not just for athletes, The University has also long accepted students from schools for students who are gymnasts or musicians or dancers, etc.
Cloyd is the only Bama signee who is not in summer school. And even though no returning players were in academic trouble and had to be in the first semester of summer school, all but one elected to take classes. The exception is Alonzo Gee, who arrived last summer, went through two semesters of summer school and last academic year with a 3.0 grade point average and who wanted a little time at home in Palm Beach, Florida. He'll be back for the second semester of summer school.
Gottfried is also waiting for an NCAA committee to rule on the appeal by The University for Chuck Davis to be given a sixth year of eligibility. Davis suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Southeastern Conference opener last January. "He has basically played barely two years," Gottfried said. Davis was aparingly used as a true freshman, then was a regular as a sophomore and a star as a junior in 2004-05 before being injured last season.
Gottfried said that Yamene Coleman, the 6-9 post player from Wilcox-Central in Camden, got a great deal out of being redshirted last year. Coleman is still listed at 230, but Gottfried saiod he had put on "about 25 good pounds" while learning the Alabama system and getting accustomed to college life. He expects Coleman to get "a lot of minutes and be a good player for us" this year behind Jermareo Davidson and Richard Hendrix at the inside post spots.
Gottfried said the incoming playes with the best chance to play would be the ones who could compete at the small forward position manned by Jean Felix last year.
The Tide coach said he expects point guard Ron Steele and Davidson to be on pre-season All-America checklists.
Last year, the perception was that it was a down year in the SEC. But with LSU and Florida going to the Final Four and Florida winning the national championship, Gottfried thinks the reputation of the league will be up this year. And he expects Florida to be favored to repeat as national champion and LSU to be pre-season top five.
Gottfried is currently hosting high school players in his basketball camp. He said that in his first year at Alabama he had 18 teams in the camp. This year there are 122 teams. With the team and individual players, some 1,400 players are going through the camp in Coleman Coliseum this summer.
There may be some prospects in the camp, but all-in-all Gottfried thinks the upcoming senior class is not a strong one for prospects in Alabama. However, the classes of rising juniors and rising sophomores looks to be very strong.
Alabama's 2006-07 schedule is almost complete. The highlight of the non-conference home schedule is Oklahoma coming to Tiuscaloosa this year. Gottfried said he is trying to add one more quality non-conference opponeznt to the home schedule. The NCAA has reversed field again and now schools can once again go to an invitational tournament each year and play more than one game that counts as only one game on the limit. This year Alabama will go to a tournament in the Virgin Islands. Next year it's Las Vegas and the year after that is Maui.