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Alabama suffers another loss as Andrew Steele undergoes surgery for sports hernia

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One day after it was announced that center Carl Engstrom was lost for the season due to torn ligaments in his left knee, the Alabama Crimson Tide suffered another personnel loss that drops them to eight available scholarship players.

Senior guard Andrew Steele is the most recent player to be lost to injury, as he’ll be out of the lineup for 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia. A fifth-year senior, Steele has seen four of his seasons in Tuscaloosa either interrupted or ended due to injury. From an injury standpoint if Steele didn’t have bad luck he’d have none.

After playing 29 games as a freshman, Steele only played in the team’s first six games three years ago because of an ankle injury.

The former star from John Carroll Catholic High School in Birmingham missed the first 13 games of the season two years ago because of a knee injury. At the end of that season, he suffered what appeared to be a career-ending concussion.

But Steele came back at midseason last year and played in 19 of the Tide’s 33 games.

Steele missed Alabama’s last three games before undergoing surgery for the sports hernia, but even with the argument that the Tide are accustomed to not having him in the rotation this hurts.

Steele is averaging 4.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game for Alabama, who visits VCU on Saturday. And given the “havoc” that the Rams look to create with their pressure defense, being limited in terms of bodies is the last thing a team needs.

How will Anthony Grant allocate the 19 minutes per game that Steele played? More minutes for players such as Trevor Lacey, Trevor Releford, Rodney Cooper and Levi Randolph. Of those four only Releford (28 minutes) played fewer than 30 minutes in their 81-76 loss to Dayton, and the reason for that was his being in foul trouble.

Against VCU on Saturday, as well as the remainder of the season, those four will be asked to do even more. Fatigue, both mentally and physically, will be something to keep an eye on as Alabama approaches the start of SEC play.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Texas lands commitment from top 100 center

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James Banks announced on Thursday that he has committed to Texas, joining Jacob Young in Shaka Smart’s first recruiting class as the head coach of the Longhorns.

Banks is an interesting prospect. A 6-foot-10 center from Georgia, Banks is a still-developing prospect that was recruited more on his potential than his immediate ability.

“James Banks emerged as a good low post prospect this spring and summer,” NBC Recruiting Analyst Scott Phillips said. “With a good set of hands, some offensive potential and a frame that can add weight, Banks is a nice upside grab for Texas.”

He’s probably a few years away from having a major impact in the Big 12, but he may not have that much time to develop. Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh and Conner Lamert all graduate after this season, meaning that Banks is going to have to contribute immediately when he sets foot on the Austin campus for the 2016-17 season.

Texas has three commitments in the Class of 2015. Smart convinced Kerwin Roach and Eric Davis to remain committed to the program when he took over for Rick Barnes while he landed a commitment from Tevin Mack, who pledged to Smart when he was at VCU.

Memphis guard could miss season with shoulder injury

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Memphis just cannot catch a break.


It’s to the point where I almost feel bad for Josh Pastner.

Today, CBSSports.com reported that Kedren Johnson, a 6-foot-4 point guard that was on track towards being an all-SEC point guard at Vanderbilt, could end up missing the season due to a shoulder injury. If he can handle the pain he can avoid surgery and play with the injury, but at the very least, Johnson is going to be less than his best.

Johnson averaged 6.7 points and 2.7 assists last season for the Tigers. He sat out 2013-14 after leaving Vanderbilt and entered last season incredibly out of shape. There was hope that he would be able to make a bigger impact this season and help fill the void at the point guard spot.

This news comes on the heels of Memphis finding out that Jaylen Fisher is heading to UNLV. Who’s Jaylen Fisher? Well, he’s a point guard and top 40 recruit from Memphis that was Pastner’s No. 1 recruiting target that opted to leave the city for his college hoops instead of play for the Tigers.

That’s a bad sign, but not quite as bad as Memphis losing star center Austin Nichols — another local kid — to a transfer over the summer. Nichols transferred to Virginia.