basketball Edit

Breaking down Alabama basketball's roster following John Petty's return

Alabama Crimson Tide guard John Petty Jr. (23)Alabama basketball players Herbert Jones (1) and John Petty Jr. (23) celebrate during the second half against the Ole Miss Rebels at The Pavilion at Ole Miss. Photo | Imagn
Alabama Crimson Tide guard John Petty Jr. (23)Alabama basketball players Herbert Jones (1) and John Petty Jr. (23) celebrate during the second half against the Ole Miss Rebels at The Pavilion at Ole Miss. Photo | Imagn

Alabama basketball head coach Nate Oats is excited, and for good reason. Monday, the Crimson Tide saw starting guard John Petty Jr. withdraw his name from the NBA draft and return for his senior season.

The return of Petty not only provides Alabama with its leading 3-point shooter and rebounder from last season but also gives the Tide one of the deepest rosters in the nation.

Alabama underwent a makeover this offseason as it welcomed in six new additions to go with six departures. With a busy summer now behind us, today we will break down each scholarship player on the Tide’s upcoming roster.

Projected starters 

Jahvon Quinerly | G | 6-1, 175 pounds | R-So.

After sitting out a season due to NCAA transfer rules, Jahvon Quinerly is finally ready to take the court for the Crimson Tide. The former McDonalds All-American should serve as a natural replacement for starting point guard Kira Lewis Jr., who left for the NBA draft this offseason. While Quinerly doesn’t have Lewis’ speed, he is a better facilitator, which should factor in well with Alabama’s influx of talent. Expect the redshirt sophomore to play with a bit of a chip on his shoulder following a frustrating year on the bench.

Jaden Shackelford | G | 6-3, 195 | So.

Jaden Shackelford burst onto the scene during his freshman season last year, finishing second on the team with 15.0 points per game while shooting 41.3 percent from the floor and 35.7 percent from beyond the arc. Despite his success, the sweet-shooting lefty will have to fight to retain his starting spot as Alabama brought in several big-time scorers over the summer. However, Shackelford’s experience should see him get the early nod.

John Petty Jr. | G | 6-5, 184 pounds | Sr.

After battling with inconsistencies early in his college career, Petty flourished under Oats’ spread-out system last year. The former five-star recruit led the SEC in 3-point shooting last season, averaging 44 percent on shots from beyond the arc. He averaged 14.5 points and led Alabama with 6.6 rebounds per game while showing significant improvements on defense. Oats said Petty has stated his intentions of becoming a first-round pick in next year’s NBA draft. With another big season, that could be a distinct possibility.

Herbert Jones | F | 6-7, 205 pounds | Sr.

Like Petty, Herbert Jones also tested the draft waters before electing to return for his senior season. While Petty’s return was the more celebrated of the two, Jones should be just as impactful for the Tide. The gritty forward served as Alabama’s “glue guy” last season, leading the Tide with 593 Blue Collar Points — the metric the team uses to measure effort and hustle plays. He was named to the SEC’s all-defensive team after leading Alabama in charges taken (22), deflections (84) and floor dives (31). Jones became a fan favorite last season after playing the final seven games with a cast on his dominant left arm after breaking his wrist. His leadership should go a long way in helping the team gel together.

Jordan Bruner | F | 6-9, 205 | Gr.

Alabama was bullied in the paint at times last year as it lacked much depth down low. Not only does Jordan Bruner provide Alabama with a seasoned big man, but he is also perfectly suited for Oats’ style of play. The Yale graduate transfer earned All-Ivy League honors last season averaging 10.9 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.7 blocks. Along with his ability to grab boards and defend, he also shot 44.3 percent from the floor and 42.4 percent from beyond the arc.

Projected reserves 

Josh Primo | G | 6-6, 180 pounds | Fr.

Josh Primo was the crown jewel of Alabama’s 2020 class and should compete for a starting role early in his college career. The 17-year-old Canadian is regarded as one of the top international prospects with some even projecting him as a potential one-and-done player. Primo’s size and ball-handling ability allow him to play multiple guard roles which should result in plenty of time on the floor regardless of whether or not he starts.

Keon Ellis | G | 6-6, 170 pounds | Jr.

Junior college players are typically brought in to make an instant impact, and Keon Ellis should do just that for Alabama. The 6-foot-6, 170-pound guard is the prototypical player for Oats’ system, contributing both as a shooter and on the defensive end. Last season, Ellis earned second-team NJCAA All-American honors, averaging 18.7 points, 2.1 steals and 1.2 blocks per game while shooting 54 percent from the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc for Florida SouthWestern State College. His 562 points and 64 steals were the most in a single season in school history.

James Rojas | F | 6-8, 215 pounds | R-Jr.

James Rojas would have been a key asset for Alabama last season had he not torn his ACL last fall. The JUCO transfer joined the team last year after earning Jayhawk West Conference Player of the Year in 2019. Over two seasons at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, the 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward averaged 14.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and shot 50.6 percent from the floor. His size and ability to contribute from deep should make him a versatile weapon moving forward.

Alex Reese | F | 6-9, 245 pounds | Sr.

Alex Reese started 25 of Alabama’s 31 games last season but will likely have to settle for a reserve role this year. Still, he gives the Tide a veteran option off the bench in a position of need. Given his size and shooting ability, Reese has always been a good fit for Oats’ system. If he can improve on his rebounding and post presence, he could even push to reclaim his starting spot.

Alex Tchikou | F | 6-11, 210 pounds | Fr.

Alex Tchikou was a late addition to the Tide’s 2020 class as he reclassified before signing with Alabama in June. The 6-foot-11, 210-pound Parisian moved to the States in August of 2018 and played for Dream City Christian School in Arizona last season. He is rated as the No. 6 power forward and No. 37 overall player in the 2020 class and gives Alabama a long, athletic big man capable of hitting from range. If Tchikou can adjust quickly to the next level, he could develop into one of the Tide’s first options off the bench.

Keon Ambrose-Hylton | F | 6-8, 200 | Fr.

Keon Abrose-Hylton hasn’t generated as much hype as his fellow Canadian freshman teammate but was still a big get for Alabama in this year’s class. The lengthy wing averaged 20.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.8 steals per game in the 2019 Peach Jam Invitational. He also averaged 4.2 points and 1.7 rebounds over six games for Team Canada during the FIBA U19 World Cup. Ambrose-Hylton’s minutes might be limited this season, but he’s certainly one to watch for the future.

Juwan Gary | F | 6-5, 215 pounds | R-Fr.

Juwan Gary was Alabama’s highest-rated signee in the 2019 class but missed all of last season after tearing his ACL last fall. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound wing player has a 6-foot-11 wingspan and excels at defending and finishing at the basket. He’ll likely need to improve on his 3-point shot to see meaningful minutes this season but gives the Tide yet another athletic option off the bench.

Darius Miles | F | 6-7, 185 pounds | Fr.

Darius Miles might need to bulk up a bit before being ready for SEC ball. Still, the 6-foot-7, 185-pounder offers plenty of upside for Alabama. Miles was rated as the No. 26 small forward and No. 121 player overall in the 2020 class. He has nice length and impressive passing ability. Last season he averaged 12.1 points and 2.5 rebounds per game while playing on IMG Academy’s postgraduate team. That experience against top competition should help ease his transition to the next level.

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