NIT Stanford Alabama Football

Small forward Brandon Austin becomes Alabama’s first 2015 commit

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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.

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.