What it will take to win: Alabama

Coaching change season has kicked into gear in college basketball. Scout.com will look at the top available jobs and what it takes to win at each of them. Here the focus is on Alabama.

With the decision to let go of Anthony Grant, the job opening at the University of Alabama is now likely to be one of the more attractive positions available in this year’s coaching carousel. Alabama is a school with a ton of resources, but also some definite challenges.

The Recruiting Climate

Unlike in football, the Deep South is not loaded with tons of elite talent to choose from. This is one of the challenges that has really plagued the SEC in recent years, and is definitely part of the issue that Alabama faces on the recruiting trail.

With that said, it isn’t like the area is completely barren either. Sure it isn’t the per capita best in the country like it is for football, but the footprint of Alabama is right around average to maybe slightly below average when it comes to producing talent.

Because of this, Alabama is a place where evaluation is key. Figuring out which kids are going to develop and which kids aren’t going to make it is very important in the local area. If someone isn’t able to do that, given the smaller margin for error since not too many elite, elite talents come from the area, hitting on the program guys as well as keeping the one top player home every season is very important.

That in mind, even right outside of the Deep South you have two major recruiting hotbeds within four hours of campus. The city of Memphis is one of the best for producing basketball talent and it is only about 230 miles from the Tide’s Tuscaloosa campus. Beyond that Atlanta, arguably the hub of Southern basketball, is only about 200 miles from Tuscaloosa.

With that finding someone who can recruit Memphis or has inroads in the state of Georgia, specifically Atlanta, would do wonders for the program on the recruiting trail. Without the elite in-state talent base, recruiting the immediate area is very important since historically getting out of region kids to come to the Deep South to play basketball has proven to be very difficult.

So while this isn’t a great job from a recruiting perspective, it also isn’t one of the worst. There is some in-state talent to choose from and some very talent rich areas within a reasonable drive of campus.

What type of coach is needed

Immediately when the job came open Steve Prohm was the name bandied about on Twitter and social media as Prohm is an Alabama graduate and someone who had a lot of success this season at Murray State. It is unknown if Prohm will be the guy, but no matter who it is the person will need to really focus on a few areas.

Maybe the most important thing at Alabama is player development. Traditionally kids from the Deep South are more raw in terms of their skills, but tend to be excellent run and jump athletes. This is due to less basketball being played and less of a focus on coaching in the youth levels in the area.

Because of that, player development is huge. If a coach and his staff can work with and develop the athleticism and natural ability of the kids in their area, and turn them into refined basketball players over the course of their career, then they can be very successful. At some jobs, such as Indiana, many of the players you get have been working with personal trainers for years and are much closer to their finished product, typically this is not the case at Alabama, and because of that player development is huge.

Also Alabama needs a head coach with some definite personality. It isn’t tough to get people to show up to Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday for Crimson Tide football, but at the same time basketball can be a bit of a tougher sell to the football charged fan base. However a head coach who has personality and can excite the fan base can definitely help pack the stands, and bring more excitement to a program that does have some talent currently on the roster.

Finally the person will need to be an energetic recruiter who isn’t afraid to take chances. You can uncover some hidden gems in the Deep South as it is an area that at times has very talented players can slip through the cracks and go underrated, under recruited, or even unknown.

In this day and age it takes a coach with a lot of self-confidence and comfort to take a few players like that, but if the coach at Alabama does his homework and identifies the players, it could be very rewarding.

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