MURPHY: Eye on Jermareo

Jermareo Davidson could be maddening to Alabama basketball fans. The gangly tattoo farmer could storm all over Randolph Morris one night, then treat the paint like an off limits zone against a lesser center the next night.

Such was the erratic nature of Davidson's "focus."

But I couldn't help but grin last night when the Golden State Warriors jumped up and nabbed Davidson with pick No. 36 in the NBA Draft. This was essentially a dozen picks higher than anybody projected the guy -- a rare feat for your typical Alabama athlete.

However, on second glance, there's a reason somebody reached (and it was actually the Charlotte Bobcats, as evidenced by the swift pick-and-trade that commenced within minutes) for the soft-spoken guy with the big Super Mario tattoo.

It's the reason all NBA teams reach: potential.

No, Davidson didn't dominate like he could have at the collegiate level. Yes, his junior year wound up being his best year for reasons that have been enumerated on this campus and on the draft broadcast last night plenty of times.

Davidson is a sensitive guy and those fatal incidents last season sent him reeling emotionally from time to time.

But the kid got it together leading up to the draft with a solid showing at the pre-draft camp then an individual workout schedule of 16 teams in three weeks that dotted the countryside.

NBA teams see an agile kid an inch under 7-foot with an arm span of about 7-4 and they get all squirmy. A shot blocker who can run the court and nestle 18 footers through the cords. Put some weight on the guy and he could be a beyond-serviceable power forward. As he is now, there's talk he could even play small forward.

Sure, his ball-handling skills are lacking and his rebounding presence could be stronger, but he's a decent passer and he wants to get better. He's coachable. He doesn't think he already has all the answers.

For college sports enthusiasts these days, guys who go off to the NBA basically fall off our radars unless they morph into a Dwayne Wade or somebody.

I think I'll keep a closer eye on this Davidson kid.

On to baseball:

I take back everything I wrote last week about Jim Wells.

Or I at least demand that all the verb tenses are changed back to the present in my "farewell" column to the venerable Wells.

One of Jim's most-referenced movies -- out of the plenty that he references -- is Groundhog Day.

Now he's living his own version of Groundhog Day, waking up Thursday morning as the University of Alabama baseball coach like he used to be. Before he retired. And after he unretired.

I've got no problem with Wells changing his mind after four days, asking Mal Moore to rescind his resignation and rehire him. It's been done before. It'll happen again.

What Wells has to worry about is the recruiting wars. Now parents and players and opposing coaches can ask themselves "How deep is his love for Alabama baseball?"

Is Wells back in this for the long haul?

Are the same issues that forced his hand into making his "hasty" decision last week still pressuring him?

One of the most telling admissions by Wells in his impromptu interview session in front of the dry erase board in the team meeting room on Wednesday regarded one of the reasons he reached that decision last week.

He said he needed time. He needed the whole summer to analyze his situation. But he understands baseball doesn't afford you that kind of time with the never-ending recruiting and roster tending.

So, how does that change with him being back in the dugout?

Were these moves meant to force Mal Moore into concrete commitments to the Sewell-Thomas upgrades?

Wells is calculating, but I don't think it extends to that kind of behavior. He insisted those were not his "core" motives in his return on Wednesday.

I guess the next few months and years will watch and see what kind of passion Wells pours into the program.


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