Alabama Basketball 2020-2021 Roster Breakdown
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — After months of testing the NBA draft waters and speculation by fans and media alike, Alabama senior guard John Petty Jr. decided to forgo professional basketball and return to the Crimson Tide for his senior season.
Needless to say, his return was welcomed by the fans with open arms.
His warm welcome is indeed warranted. Last season, Petty was the No. 1 three-point shooter in the SEC and one of the top deep shooters in the nation, going 44 percent from three-point range and 45 percent from the field. He also averaged 14.5 points per game along with 6.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
Of the three players who tested the NBA draft waters this season in Petty, sophomore guard Kira Lewis Jr. and now senior wing Herbert Jones, Lewis is the only to depart from Tuscaloosa to pursue a professional career.
During the offseason, the team also had four players transfer from the team, those players being Javian Davis (Mississippi State), Raymond Hawkins (Long Beach State), Jaylen Forbes (Tulane) and Galin Smith (Maryland).
With Petty’s return, Alabama is now set with all 13 of its scholarship players. This season, head coach Nate Oats’ squad consists of seven returners and six newcomers, dramatically shifting the face of the team and conforming it to Oats’ notorious blue-collar style of play.
All of that being said, here is a breakdown of the 2020-2021 Alabama men’s basketball scholarship roster.
Returners: Herbert Jones (F/G), John Petty Jr. (G), Alex Reese (PF), Jaden Shackelford (SG)
Alabama has four returning fixtures on the team in 2020, with Petty leading the pack.
That’s not to discredit sophomore guard Jaden Shackelford.
In 2019, Shackelford was lightening in a bottle for the Crimson Tide, averaging 15.0 points per game and finishing second on the team behind Petty in threes with 84. Shackelford brings an electric, tough mentality and will be a key frequent starter on the team in the upcoming season.
Herbert Jones is a man who needs no introduction. The senior wing amassed 173 rebounds along with 34 steals and 19 blocks on the defensive end of the court. Jones achieved fan-favorite status late in the season when he shot two one-handed free-throws to ensure the Alabama victory in Coleman Coliseum, all while wearing a cast on his injured left wrist.
Senior forward Alex Reese saw the most starts among the remaining players with 26. Having consistent scoring droughts throughout the year, Reese appeared to have difficulties adjusting to Oats’ fast-paced play. Still, the then-junior amassed 150 rebounds and a team-high 30 blocks, giving him value on the defensive side of the ball. The 2020 season could see an even better Reese take to the court with the summer workouts being well under way and him having more time to develop.
Did Not See Action Last Season: Juwan Gary (SF), James Rojas (PF), Jahvon Quinerly (PG)
This fall, redshirt-sophomore guard Jahvon Quinerly will finally see action on the court. Despite transferring from Villanova prior to the 2019-2020 season, Quinerly was not approved for immediate eligibility for the season, forcing Oats to redshirt him for the entirety of last year. That being said, Quinerly was still a staple in the Crimson Tide’s practices, outworking and outperforming many players on the team.
While he might not have had the opportunity to perform last year, few are as hungry as Quinerly to return to the court. Oats has consistently reiterated his importance to the team for the upcoming year, so Alabama fans should expect a lot out of this electrifying player.
Both forwards redshirt-freshman Juwan Gary and redshirt-junior James Rojas tore their ACLs prior to the start of last season, forcing them to watch from the bench for the entire year. Gary was the highest-rated of Oats’ 2019 class, his 6-foot-11 wingspan helps him excel at defending.
Rojas had a high probability of being a key defender for the Crimson Tide had he not sustained his injury. At the JUCO level, the 6-foot-8 forward amassed 14.3 points per game as well as 5.8 rebounds and shot 50.6 percent from the floor. Needless to say, if Rojas can keep up his numbers in the SEC, he’ll be a threat to be reckoned with.
New Arrivals: Keon Ambrose-Hylton (G), Jordan Bruner (F), Keon Ellis (G), Darius Miles (F), Josh Primo (G), Alex Tchikou (F)
Oats and assistant coach Bryan Hodgson put together a class that ranks No. 12 nationally according to 247Sports. Building upon last season’s success with newcomer Shackelford, Oats and Hodgson proved that they can recruit among the best in the conference.
Yale grad-transfer forward Jordan Bruner is the most experienced of the incoming class. All-Ivy League with the Bulldogs in 2019, Bruner averaged. 10.9 points per game along with 9.2 rebounds — almost a double-double per game. Combine that with his ability to defend off the boards, Bruner is set to see action as a starter in 2020 should his success at Yale follow him to Tuscaloosa.
Fellow forward freshman Alex Tchikou was the last signee for the Crimson Tide, joining the team in June. Moving to the United States in 2018 from France to play basketball at Dream City Christian School in Arizona, the 6-foot-11 Parisian earned himself a spot as the No. 6 power forward and the No. 37 overall player in this year’s class. With his long build as well as shooting abilities, Tchikou will be a key player off the bench in 2020 provided he adapts well to Oats’ playing style.
Stopping at just one international player was not enough for Oats and Hodgson. In addition to Tchikou, Canadian guards Josh Primo and Keon Ambrose-Hylton also join the team. Primo is highly regarded as one of the top international prospects in this year’s class, potentially being a one-and-done player for the Crimson Tide. Adaptable, Primo shows promise from multiple guard positions and provides incredible depth for Alabama at the position.
Ambrose-Hylton doesn’t have as much preseason hype as his fellow Canadian teammate, but don’t let that distract from his talent. At the 2019 Peach Jam Invitational, Ambrose-Hylton accounted for 20.2 points per game along with 7.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.8 steals per game.
JUCO-transfer Keon Ellis looks to provide Alabama with both shooting and skills on the defensive end of the court. At Florida SouthWestern State, Ellis earned second-team All-NJCAA honors last year. Averaging 18.7 points per game, both Ellis’ 562 points and 64 steals were single-season records for the Florida college. Oats hopes to see Ellis have an immediate impact on the team, and if Ellis can keep those numbers up, it’s certainly possible.
Last on the newcomers list is 6-foot-7 forward Darius Miles. Out of all of the players on the 2020 roster, Miles shows the most need for physical development. While his height and wingspan are solid, his weight at just 185 pounds expresses a need to gain muscle mass. That being said, while playing on IMG Academy’s postgraduate team, Miles accounted for 12.1 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. The skills are there, he just needs to build to back it up and press on stronger players at the college level.
Combining the key returners along with Oats and Hodgson’s 2020 class, Alabama basketball should see a dramatic uptick in success this season. Last year, the Crimson Tide was plagued with injuries that forced them to have a shallow bench for the majority of the season.
This year, barring more unforeseen injuries, Alabama basketball looks to have depth at every position and then some. On top of that, the more success that Oats and Hodgson have in Tuscaloosa, the more high-profile recruits will be coming this team’s way.
Alabama now has the tools and the players to create something special this season. It’s now up to the Crimson Tide to capitalize on this opportunity and prove why Oats could be the best coaching hire at Alabama since Nick Saban.