Alabama basketball fans let out a collective sigh of relief on Tuesday. Braxton Key is returning to the Crimson Tide next season.
After flirting with the idea of entering the NBA Draft, the Crimson Tide’s leading scorer has decided to return to Alabama for the 2017-18 season. Key, who averaged 12 points per game as a freshman in 2016-17, made the following Tweet on Tuesday morning:
— braxton key (@btwice_11) May 23, 2017
It seemed like a good sign, and Alabama coach Avery Johnson confirmed that suspicion to Alabama beat reporter Cecil Hurt, who tweeted that Johnson has confirmed Key withdrew from the NBA Draft.
University of Alabama forward Braxton Key has withdrawn from the NBA Draft, per Avery Johnson. @coachavery6
— Cecil Hurt (@CecilHurt) May 23, 2017
As recently as last week, Johnson expressed confidence in a quick resolution to Key’s status.
“We communicate all the time,” Johnson said, per SEC Country’s Christopher Walsh. “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.”
The news of Key’s return is a big deal for an Alabama team that has NCAA Tournament aspirations for next season. The Crimson Tide is an early favorite to be named among the top teams in the increasingly competitive basketball conference.