TUSCALOOSA | University of Alabama men's basketball coach Anthony Grant, speaking at the annual team banquet sponsored by the Tuscaloosa Tip-Off Club, told the team Tuesday night that he hoped it had "started a pattern" by making the NCAA Tournament field this season. He also acknowledged that the team had "faced some adversity," but added "that only makes you stronger."
Grant addressed most of his remarks to the returning players, even though two of the Crimson Tide's departing team members, senior JaMychal Green and sophomore Charles Hankerson Jr., were in attendance.
Hankerson said that there "were a lot of factors," including playing time, that entered into his decision to transfer.
"I'm grateful for the two years I've been here," he said. "I loved it here. It's just about seeking better opportunities."
Hankerson said his future college choice was "wide open right now," although he mentioned the University of Miami, in his hometown, as one possibility.
Tony Mitchell, who also requested a release after being suspended for the final 11 games of the season, was not present.
"We met," Grant said when asked about Mitchell. "He felt like his best option was to make a change. There are options where he could put himself into the NBA draft, and he may do that, but he could keep open the option of returning to school."
UA now has three scholarships available for the late signing period, which begins today.
"We are actively recruiting and we will continue to see what's available to help our team," Grant said. "We are not going to take any option off the table.
"Hopefully, we will continue putting this team into the position where it has the opportunity to win championships."
In addition to the recognition of the team's seniors, Green and manager Brooks Merrill, Grant presented three awards. Guard Retin Obasohan, who sat out the season as a redshirt freshman, won the Student-Athlete Award. Levi Randolph was the team's outstanding freshman and Andrew Steele was the winner of the team's Hustle Award.
"Andrew started the season as a student coach and ended it as a player-coach," Grant said.
Green and sophomore point guard Trevor Releford were also honored as All-Southeastern Conference selections.
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