Alabama basketball: Star transfer target comes to campus as Braxton Key remains AWOL

Welcome to The Rammer Jammer, SEC Country’s daily Alabama athletics recap. Today, we look at Alabama’s near future in basketball. 

Cecil Hurt of The Tuscaloosa News published a revealing Q&A with Avery Johnson, touching on new coaching hires, old coaching fires and, most importantly to most Alabama fans, the future of star point guard Braxton Key. Key declared himself eligible for the NBA draft and has worked out for the Boston Celtics. Johnson said his staff has been supportive of Key throughout the process, even laying out the draft timeline in detail — unsurprisingly, given Johnson’s extensive NBA experience. Key has until May 24 to withdraw from the draft, if he so chooses.

The coach, preparing for his third season at Alabama, explained the process behind his latest coaching hire, emphasizing recruiting, as I did Tuesday. He also touched on his ongoing efforts to recruit transfers, including small forward Tevin Mack, a former 4-star recruit from the University of Texas. Mack was dismissed from Shaka Smart’s squad, despite following him to Austin from Virginia Commonwealth. The battle for Mack could be a difficult one for Alabama: He’s rumored to be looking for somewhere closer to home. 

The subtext of Johnson’s transfer talk is most interesting: He has one scholarship and he’s not in a hurry to use it. He’s more than happy to find a top-quality player who will sit out a year before playing in 2018-19, rather than find an experienced player to replace the talent he could be losing. To me, that makes it seem like Johnson isn’t worried about losing his best scorer.

Of course, he also has possibly the program’s best-ever recruit, Collin Sexton, to fall back on. When discussing Sexton, Johnson specifically rejected the invitation to slot him in as a “point guard,” which is good, because the “traditional” basketball positions are out of date, misleading and overly simplistic.

ICYMI

Built by Bama

In baseball, Jimmy Nelson got the win for Milwaukee, 6-2, against San Diego on Tuesday, throwing 6 innings while giving up 2 runs, 7 hits and 1 walk while striking out 8. Alex Avila pinch hit in a marathon loss for Detroit, going 2 for 2 with a double, a single and an RBI as the Tigers came up short against Baltimore, 13-11, in 13 innings.

Here’s a reuben burger named after Reuben Foster.

Around the Capstone

The wheels came all the way off for Alabama men’s golf at the NCAA Sammamish Regional, where it shot 13 strokes over par to finish the day at 12-over, tied in fifth place. The top five teams from each regional qualify for the national championships. Alabama must hold off Washington, Texas A&M and San Diego State on the final day to qualify.

Patrick Murphy, great Irish-American, called the start of the NCAA postseason his third favorite day of the year “other than St. Patrick’s Day and Christmas.” Sláinte, Murph.

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