TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — News of forward Braxton Key returning to Alabama for his sophomore season broke early Tuesday.
Key’s return gives Alabama a roster that should be able to compete for the SEC title as well as make an NCAA Tournament run.
Projected starting lineup
|Forward/Center OR||Donta Hall||Junior||6-9||6.0||5.5|
* At Pebblebrook High School, 2015-16; ** At Ohio State, 2015-16
The good thing about a player like Ingram is he can play on and off the ball. Ingram, who started all 34 games last season, also can defend bigger guards and some forwards. His versatility should fit well with Sexton.
Sexton brings a level of excitement Alabama basketball hasn’t had in a long time. He shined on the all-star circuit this year, bringing even more attention to Alabama basketball. Sexton is an aggressive scorer who can also facilitate the offense. He and Ingram have a chance to be a dynamic duo.
Key should be the feature player on offense next season. He showed flashes of being a go-to player as a freshman, and should only improve this offseason. Key averaged 12 points and 5.7 rebounds last season. Key also showed he can be a playmaker for others at times.
Norris started 27 of 34 games and gives Alabama shooting, veteran leadership and defense from the forward position.
Hall took a step forward as a sophomore last year. He eventually earned the starting job over senior Jimmie Taylor. Hall, who made 20 starts, averaged 6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
Giddens, who sat out last year due to NCAA transfer rules after arriving from Ohio State, provides size, defense and rebounding from the forward/center spot. We’re not sure what Giddens can bring offensively, but any low-post scoring would be welcomed.
The rotation off the bench is a little tougher to figure out. Look for Avery Johnson Jr., ArMond Davis and the freshmen — John Petty, Alex Reese, Herb Jones and Galin Smith — to compete for minutes.
Johnson Jr. served as a quality backup point guard last season, averaging 9 points per game. Davis had a change of heart, deciding to return to Alabama after initially announcing that he’d transfer.
Ranked the 30th player in the nation by 247Sports, the 4-star Petty could be a great option as a sixth man for Alabama given his natural scoring ability. Jones is tough to figure out. He has the size and length to be a quality player, but recruiting analysts have mixed opinions on him. Jones could end up being the steal of this class.
Reese is an offensive-minded big man while Smith should provide size and rebounding down low.
It’s NCAA tournament or bust for Alabama basketball. Alabama has been close to making the tournament in each of Johnson’s first two years. Year 3 is the time for the Crimson Tide to break through.
Given the incoming class and the returning talent, Alabama should have the depth, talent and experience to make a tournament run.