Alabama Crimson Tide basketball will see two players declare for NBA Draft
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Alabama Crimson Tide basketball will see two players declare for NBA Draft

Following his first season with Alabama basketball, Nate Oats is expecting two of his starters to declare for this year’s NBA Draft. The head coach spoke to local reporters Tuesday morning, stating he has talked to Kira Lewis Jr. and John Petty Jr. who have all indicated their intention to test the draft waters.

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“Those are the two guys who will be putting their name in and just kind of seeing where they’re going to land based on feedback that they get,” Oats said. “We’re planning on possibly not having either of them back… I think where teams get stuck is not planning on guys leaving and all of a sudden they leave. I think the best course of action is to plan on them both leaving, and if they come back it’s a pleasant surprise.”

Lewis was named first-team All-SEC and earned all-district honors from the National Association of Basketball Coaches. The sophomore point guard led the Crimson Tide in scoring (18.5 ppg), assists (5.2 apg), steals (1.8 spg) minutes (37.6 mpg) and field goals made (206). Lewis of Team USA’s FIBA U19 World Cup squad which claimed the gold medal last summer. The 6-foot-3, 165-pound guard is one of the fast players in this year’s draft class and has been projected as a late first-round pick in several mock drafts.

Petty, who earned second-team All-SEC honors, led the conference with a 44 percent 3-point percentage while ranking second with 85 made 3s. Petty’s 44 percent average beyond the arc ranked No. 9 in the nation. The sharp-shooting guard also led Alabama with 6.6 rebounds per game.

Oats, who coached five seasons at Buffalo before coming to Alabama, said this was a new situation for him with players deciding whether or not to come back or enter the draft. Both Lewis and Petty are expected to leave the door open for a possible return to Alabama by not signing with an agent.

“They’re talking to agents, getting feedback on how this process is going to work, getting advice from them. But I don’t anticipate either one of them (signing one),” Oats said. “They’re both smart kids. They both have families that will help them make intelligent decisions that we talked to."

Both players will have until June 15 to decide whether they want to withdraw their names and be eligible to play in the NCAA’s 2020-21 season. Of course, that deadline could be altered by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The NBA has suspended all of its games due to the pandemic and has not come to a decision when play will resume. It’s also not clear what effect the delay will have on the draft, which is set for June 25. The NBA Combine is scheduled to be held from May 21-24 in Chicago.

Depending on how far those dates are pushed back, it could cause complications with recruiting as Oats wouldn’t know how many roster spots he has open. While the head coach reiterated that he was planning as if both Lewis and Petty would be departing, he said his roster will look “significantly different” next season.

The Crimson Tide saw freshman forward Raymond Hawkins place his name in the NCAA transfer portal earlier this month. Alabama will see forwards Juwan Gary and James Rojas return from season-ending injuries suffered in preseason camp while point guard Javon Quinerly will be eligible after sitting out the season following his transfer from Villanova.

Oats said he has at least one spot open, stating he was hopeful that he would receive a commitment within the week. Alabama already signed four-star forward Keon Ambrose-Hylton in this year’s class.

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Andrew Bone, of BamaInsider.com, is a real estate broker in the state of Alabama. 

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