TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama men's basketball assistant coach Bryan Hodgson took to social media on Tuesday, participating in an Instagram Live feed for fans.
The assistant coach, who just finished his first season at Alabama along with head coach Nate Oats, started off his conversation by talking about the unexpected sudden end of the 2019-2020 season.
"It was tough," Hodgson said. "Our guys were fired up to play in the SEC tournament. This answer will never change. We went to Nashville believing that we were going to win the SEC tournament so it was very unfortunate that we weren't able to do that but we did believe we were going to win it. Our guys believed they were going to win it, so it was a tough conversation.
"Obviously there's more important, bigger things going on in the world today and we've all got to do our part."
At the end of the season, the Crimson Tide finished with a 16-15 overall record. While the likelihood of Alabama winning the SEC tournament and securing a spot in the NCAA tournament was unlikely given the slew of unfortunate injuries and sluggish finish in the final weeks of the season, the world will never truly know what could have happened had the Crimson Tide been able to face Tennessee on that fateful day in early March.
That being said, Hodgson expressed that Oats and himself are solely focused on the present and the future rather than the past.
"We didn't have quite the year we expected but we are in the process of — I don't want to call it a regroup because we walked into a pretty good situation — in the process of getting the roster the way we want it to and build this program up back to a championship caliber program," Hodgson said. "Not only in the SEC but nationally."
Despite a season that was disappointing to many Alabama basketball fans, Oats and Hodgson put together a successful 2020 recruiting class, signing five players and forming the No. 19 recruiting class in the nation.
Among those signees are four-star combo guard Josh Primo, four-star power forward Keon Ambrose-Hylton, three-star power forward Darius Miles and three-star combo guard Keon Ellis.
"We've had a lot of success during the coronavirus," Hodgson said. "We were able to sign Keon Ellis, Darius Miles and Jordan Bruner without them being on campus. One of the biggest reasons we were able to do that is because of coach [Oats] being a genuine guy and his willingness to work as a head coach. He spent as much time or more than any assistant in our program on the phone with those guys and building a relationship with them to the point where they trusted him.
"Obviously you gotta have a high level of trust to commit to a program without a visit so we're very thankful that those guys made that leap with us and we're excited to get to coaching them."
In addition to the four players seeing action at the Division 1 level for the first time, Oats and Hodgson also secured grad-transfer Jordan Bruner out of Yale, who is widely regarded as the top transfer player in the country.
"Jordan Bruner in my opinion — in the whole staff's opinion — was the best grad transfer on the market," Hodgson said. "Not one of the best, he was the best grad transfer on the market for the way we want to play. He's got a skillset that you don't see from 6' 10" guys, he had triple-doubles with assists in the Ivy League so that's something we're really looking forward to."
During the live feed, one fan asked a question on what the blue-collar mentality of the program means to Hodgson and how he defines it. Hodgson proceeded to provide a solid definition of just exactly what the expression means to Crimson Tide basketball.
"We pride ourselves on playing blue collar," Hodgson said. "What we mean by blue collar is toughness, fighting through adversity, fighting together, doing all the little things that help people win. When we look at blue-collar workers or blue-collar programs those are people that have — you know, wake up every morning, put the hard hat on and go to work no matter what the adversity is, no matter the situation they show up and work every single day and that's something that we try to instill in our guys and they've done a good job of adopting that."
Despite the disappointing finish to last season, Alabama is primed to make waves in the 2020-2021 season. Sophomore Kira Lewis Jr. has declared for the NBA draft, but juniors guard John Petty Jr. and wing Herbert Jones still remain undeclared, meaning that their return to the Crimson Tide is still a possibility.
Combine those two potential returners, the five new signees and other returning players who didn't see action last season like Jahvon Quinerly, James Rojas and Juwan Gary, an improvement on last year is likely in the cards for Alabama this fall.
With excitement in his voice, Hodgson noted that while summer camps are not a possibility this year, he and the rest of the staff are excited to resume normal operations in the future.
"We're just going to do our part and wait until it's safe for them to return to school safe to work with them," Hodgson said. "When we get that opportunity we'll get right back at it.
"It's summer, we've got big expectations for next year. I hope that you all do too."