2016-2017 Season Review
Avery Johnson’s second season leading the Crimson Tide was almost identical in terms of record and postseason finish as his first season. They finished 19-15 after going 18-15 in 2015-2016 and lost in the first round of the NIT for the second season in a row. They were 10th in the nation in defensive efficiency, allowing just 92.2 points per 100 possessions. The Tide’s biggest win of the season was a 90-86 win in four overtimes over South Carolina. They also had a nice win over Vanderbilt and crushed Georgia by 20 on the road. It wasn’t necessarily a season that turned any heads, but it was one that sets a foundation for what could be a breakout season in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama was a young team last season, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some pieces they’ll miss this upcoming season. Bola Olaniyan led the team in rebounds with 6.4 boards a game. The Tide will miss his physicality down low. Corban Collins played 21.8 minutes per game, averaged 7.0 PPG and hit 45 threes, which was second best on the team. Jimmie Taylor, a 6’10 big man, averaged 5.1 PPG and 3.7 RPG, while Shannon Hale, who averaged 8.3 PPG during his career despite a rough senior campaign, also graduated. Nick King, who averaged 3.3 PPG and 2.9 RPG in limited minutes, decided to transfer to Middle Tennessee and Brandon Austin transferred to Samford.
The biggest news of the off-season thus far for Alabama was Braxton Key deciding to withdraw from the NBA Draft and return for his sophomore season. The 6’8 forward led the team in scoring with 12.0 PPG and was second on the team in both rebounds (5.7 per game) and assists (2.5 per game). Key gives Alabama a play maker with some experience and they’ll look for him to be a leader and their go to guy. UPDATE 11/7: Key suffered a torn meniscus and underwent surgery. A timetable for his return has yet to be announced.
Dazon Ingram is a big 6’5 guard who averaged 10.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 3.3 APG (best on team) as a freshman. He’ll be another guy that Avery Johnson will look to as a leader in this upcoming season. Riley Norris, a 6’7 shooter, returns for his senior season after putting up 9.0 PPG and hitting a team best 47 threes. Avery Johnson Jr., another sophomore, scored 6.9 PPG last season. Armond Davis (6’6 senior) and Donta Hall (6’9 junior) both scored 6.0 PPG, while Hall also was third on the team in rebounds at 5.5 a game.
The man every one is talking about is Collin Sexton and the hype seems well deserved. 247Sports’ #4 overall prospect and top point guard in the nation, Sexton is a quick lead guard that can handle the ball and score in bunches. In DraftExpress’ latest 2018 mock draft, they have Sexton going eighth. UPDATE 11/7: Sexton has been declared ineligible by the NCAA for the time being. There is no word on how long this will last.
Sexton isn’t the only big recruit in this class, though. John Petty, 247Sports’ #30 overall prospect and #5 SG, is another guy with a lot of hype around him as well. At 6’5, Petty oozes athleticism, has great leaping ability and is a solid defender. He’s a streaky shooter from the outside, but will need to become more of a consistent threat from three.
Alex Reese is also a four star recruit in his own right. The 6’9 power forward is very skilled and can shoot the ball from the perimeter. Rounding out Alabama’s 7th ranked recruiting class is 6’7 three star SG Herb Jones and 6’9 three star big man Galin Smith. Daniel Giddens, who played his freshman season at Ohio State in 2015-2016, will also be eligible to play this season. At 6’11, Giddens will provide the Tide with some needed size down low.
Avery Johnson definitely has something brewing in Tuscaloosa. The Tide should be one of the most intriguing teams to watch in the 2017-2018 season. There is a question mark down low, as Donta Hall is the only big with much experience. Guys like Giddens, Smith and Reese will need to step up and provide support down low. In terms of just plain raw talent, the Tide will be one of the top teams in the nation. As we’ve seen many times, though, raw talent doesn’t always translate to wins. They’ll need the newcomers and returners to mesh and learn how to spread the ball around so all that talent can be put to use. Alabama hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2012, but if they can do those things, that drought should come to end next March… and then some.