NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It’s down to Kentucky or Alabama in Huntsville, Ala., shooting guard John Petty’s college basketball recruitment. He plans to announce a decision not long after taking his official visit to Lexington on Oct. 28.
Neither Wildcats coach John Calipari nor Crimson Tide coach Avery Johnson can comment specifically on Petty, but at SEC Media Day on Wednesday, Johnson offered some “general” thoughts on trying to fend off a powerhouse program for a top in-state prospect.
“We want to try to keep those kids in our state and we want Alabama to be a destination for those kids and not necessarily leave out of state and go to the other programs and be a part of championships other places,” Johnson said. “We feel we’re very competitive. We’ve built some great relationships with our high school coaches. We just feel it’s a relationship-driven business.”
The Tide hope so anyway. Petty, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard ranked as has the No. 25 overall player in the Class of 2017 (by ESPN) and no lower than No. 44 (by Scout.com), is the kind of player Calipari scoops up by the armload every cycle. So what’s the pitch against a Kentucky or Duke?
“Our pitch, we don’t mention other schools on our recruiting visits. We just talk about Alabama. I talk about my resume,” Johnson said. “If it’s about NBA, I have a little bit of an idea what that’s all about.”
Johnson, an NBA champion as a player and later NBA Coach of the Year on the sideline, is clearly battling the perception that Calipari and Kentucky crank out pros at an unprecedented rate: 28 draft picks the last seven years.
“But if it’s also about graduating, I’m all for kids graduating. We have a lot of first-generation graduates that are going to graduate from Alabama. So I’m pro-education also,” Johnson said, in a Calipari-style interview turned recruiting pitch. “But we tell them, ‘You can come to Alabama and be a part of something different. You can be the first to help lead us to the Final Four.’ So that’s our sell.”
Will it be enough to thwart Kentucky and win a major recruiting victory for the Tide? We should know sometime next month.
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