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June 25, 2012

Grant looks ahead

TUSCALOOSA | University of Alabama men's basketball coach Anthony Grant said Monday on the Southeastern Conference basketball coaches' summer teleconference that UA would face some "roster challenges" in the coming season - but added the Crimson Tide's recruiting class would help, even though it consists of just one player.

"We are obviously losing some key pieces in JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell and (with) Charles Hankerson choosing to transfer, but we are looking forward to the challenge that the league will impose on us," Grant said. "We're excited about the season. I think if you took a poll of the coaches, they'd say there is potential for our league to have a banner year."

Grant didn't predict a number of NCAA Tournament teams for the SEC in the coming season, although Kentucky coach John Calipari predicted that half the league - seven teams - would receive bids. Alabama figures to be in the upper half of the league with a solid nucleus of returning players and the addition of national top-25 recruit Devonta Pollard, a 6-foot-7 forward from Kemper County, Miss., a Crimson Tide target for three years, according to Grant.

"Devonta is a young man we have been recruiting for quite a while, almost ever since I got here," Grant said. "He has a chance to be a major player for us. He brings variety in terms of his skill set. He can score in different ways, can affect a game defensively and play multiple positions. He's a great teammate, and I have been really impressed in getting to know him and his family in the recruiting process."

Grant said he was pleased with a class consisting only of Pollard because "he fills a need for us."

"The big thing for me is making sure we add pieces that help us get stronger. Devonta does that. It worked out. We recruited some other guys, some chose elsewhere, and in some cases we chose to go in another direction. But with Devonta, we felt like we spent a significant amount of time building a relationship with him and his family and we are glad it worked out."

Pollard will join a nucleus of players that saw significant action as Alabama advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season. That group includes junior point guard Trevor Releford and a strong sophomore class including forward Nick Jacobs and perimeter players Levi Randolph, Rodney Cooper and Trevor Lacey. UA also returns two 7-footers in Moussa Gueye and Carl Engstrom; backup point guards Ben Eblen and redshirt freshman Retin Obasohan (who is playing for Belgium's junior national team this summer) and versatile senior Andrew Steele.

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or 205-72-0225.




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