HOOVER, Ala. — University of Alabama men’s basketball coach Avery Johnson expects to have a good idea on whether forward Braxton Key will be returning to the Crimson Tide or staying in the NBA draft over the next few days.
Although the draft won’t be held until June 22, Key has until May 24 to make a decision — unless he hires an agent.
However, Johnson said he’s been encouraging Key to get his paperwork in early to make sure there are no problems.
“We communicate all the time,” Johnson said. “When this process started and he came in and said he was very serious about declaring we talked about what that process would look like, and provided he and his family all the information. I told him what I thought kind of the diagnosis would be in terms of whether he’d be drafted or not, if he’d get invited to Chicago or not, how many workouts he might have and it’s pretty much right in line with what’s going on.
“But he’s been working out really hard and really wants to be good. Playing in the NBA is one of his goals.”
Key led the Crimson Tide in scoring (12.0 points per game) and minutes (29.8), and was second in assists (2.5) and rebounds (5.7). He was third in blocks (21) and 3-point shooting percentage (.330).
Key declared for the draft on April 27 but was not among the 67 players invited to participate in last week’s NBA combine. He worked out for one NBA team so far, the Boston Celtics.
Johnson made the comment while the Regions Tradition Pro-Am was being played at Greystone Golf & Country Club in Hoover, Ala.
The coach didn’t play in the fundraiser, but he touched on a variety of subjects with reporters.
• Johnson indicated he knew right before the Final Four that he’d be hiring an assistant basketball coach, but had never met Yasir Rosemond. He worked from a list of about 15 targets and said Rosemond emerged as the leading candidate.
“It takes a lot when you’re hiring new coaches, they have to check a lot of boxes,” Johnson said. “I know everyone talks about recruiting, and that’s a high percentage of it. But when we’re recruiting even though a guy may have the lead on a recruit it’s all of us pitching in to help. We think he’s going to help in a lot of different ways.”
Alabama announced the hiring of Rosemond, a former Georgia assistant coach, on Tuesday.
• As for pronouncing Rosemond’s name, Johnson said: “I’m going to mess up his name 20 times a day.” Note to Johnson: Ya-seer ROSE-mond.
• Johnson confirmed the men’s basketball team will be playing three exhibition games in Canada in August, including one in Montreal.
“We have a lot of new parts,” Johnson said. Alabama has five incoming freshmen and sophomore center Daniel Giddens, who wasn’t eligible to play last season after transferring from Ohio State. The team will leave Aug. 4.
• On the SEC becoming a tougher conference, Johnson said he expects “a minimum” of seven SEC teams to make the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
• Johnson, when asked if he ever stepped on a shooter during a jump shot: “No, because I tried to legally close out on shooters.”
• The full team must be on campus by 3 p.m. ET on May 29, with freshmen reporting the previous day. The first night will feature a team dinner.