With multiple players having transferred out of the program, Alabama head coach Anthony Grant and his coaching staff will have some holes to fill in both their 2014 and 2015 recruiting classes.
With three commitments in the 2014 class Alabama landed its first 2015 commitment on Sunday, as Montgomery (Ala.) Carver High School small forward Brandon Austin verbally committed to attend the SEC school. This continues the SEC West’s run on players from Carver, with 2014 prospect Demetrius Houston and 2015 prospect Joseph Struggs both having committed to attend Mississippi State.
In fact four players with connections to Carver will end up (or already are) in Starkville, with Carver alums Roquez Johnson and Craig Sword currently members of the Mississippi State program.
But Austin went a different route, deciding that the best move for him would be to join the Crimson Tide.
“It’s the best school for me,” Austin said. “I love their style of play and how they get up and down the floor. My mom was real big on the academics, too, and they have a good academic program.”
Austin, a 6-foot-5 forward known for his dreadlocked hair, has been Carver’s sixth man the last two seasons.
“I think he has a great upside and he’s going to be very successful at the Capstone,” Carver coach James “J.J.” Jackson said. “We look forward to seeing him in that crimson and white in a couple of years and him making his mark up there.”
Austin is the first player of Carver head coach James Jackson’s to commit to Alabama, which is interesting considering the fact that Jackson played at Alabama for Wimp Sanderson in the 1980s. As for the current Crimson Tide, this is a needed commitment considering the fact that Devonta Pollard (legal issues) is no longer a member of the program.
With Pollard, who would have been a senior in 2015-16, out of the picture Alabama was essentially down to 2014 commit Riley Norris at the small forward position come 2015. Adding Austin to the equation gives coach Grant some depth at the position, and the opportunity to focus on other areas of need.
Last month the NCAA announced that due to rules violations found in their investigation of the SMU men’s basketball program, the team would be banned from postseason play in 2015-16 and head coach Larry Brown would be suspended for the first nine games of the 2015-16 season. With a team led by seniors Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy and just one player (Keith Frazier) being the subject of the investigation, it was assumed that SMU would at the very least appeal the postseason ban.
Friday, the school announced that while it will appeal some of the penalties handed down by the NCAA to the men’s basketball and men’s golf programs they will not appeal the postseason ban or Brown’s suspension.
“After careful consideration, however, we will not appeal the NCAA post-season ban on men’s basketball or partial season suspension of Head Men’s Basketball Coach Larry Brown,” SMU president R. Gerald Turner stated in the release. “Although we regret the severe impact on our student-athletes, the simple fact is that the NCAA penalty structure mandates at minimum a one-year post-season ban for the level of misconduct that occurred, in our case, when a former staff member completed an online high school course for a prospective student-athlete, committing academic misconduct.
“In addition, should we appeal this matter, the lengthy process and uncertainty during this period could harm many aspects of the program. Coach Brown and his staff also agree that it is in the best interests of the program to accept these sanctions and move forward.”
Among the penalties the school will appeal (with regards to the basketball program) are the “duration of scholarship losses” and how long the recruiting restrictions placed on the program will last, and the vacating of games Frazier played in during the 2013-14 season.
This a tough turn of events for players who had nothing to do with the violations, as they see their opportunity to return to the NCAA tournament taken away. As a result of the school’s decision, SMU’s season will end March 9 following their regular season finale against Cincinnati.
Kevin Marfo committed to George Washington on Friday evening, announcing his decision on Twitter.
“I am grateful and appreciative to all the schools that recruited me. But I will be spending the next four years at George Washington University,” he tweeted.
This caps a successful week for Mike Lonergan on the recruiting trail. On Tuesday, GW landed a commitment from Darnell Rogers, a 5-foot-3 point guard. He is the son of former GW guard Shawnta Rogers, the 1999 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. GW ends the week by adding a tenacious rebounder to a front court that graduates top rebounder Kevin Larsen after this season. Rogers and Marfo join power forward Collin Smith in the Class of 2016. Seton Hall transfer Jaren Sina will also be eligible in 2016-17.
He cut his list to 10 in August with Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Minnesota, Boston College, UMass, Saint Joseph’s, DePaul, Rhode Island and Providence all making the cut along wit the Colonials. He later trimmed the list to five finalists: BC, Providence, DePaul, GW and Rhode Island.
The Worcester Academy (Mass.) forward played for BABC this summer in the Nike EYBL, averaging 11.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-8 Marfo is listed as the No. 148 overall player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.