Former Alabama basketball guard wrote the following letter that was posted on RollTide.com. It was simply titled, "Dear Fans"
It’s impossible to put my last two years into words. The relationships, experiences, and challenges — everything helped mold me into the player I am today. I believe a simple thank you is the right place to start.
You took me in as one of your own and helped turn a childhood dream into a reality. How many kids sit around watching their favorite basketball players on television, hoping one day to take the floor and compete on the biggest stage?
My dream was no different.
I spent endless days and nights dribbling a basketball up and down the court, imagining the spectacle of it all.
The roaring crowd, primetime cameras, and fierce competition—I’ve been one of the few blessed to live out that fantasy.
And it’s all thanks to Alabama and your incredible support.
I’ve wanted to play college basketball for as far back as I can remember.
The sport runs deep in my family, and there was always excitement whenever March Madness or a primetime college game was on television.
It was a goal of mine to keep my head down, put the ball on the floor, and work towards putting myself in that same situation.
And so I went to work …
I grinded my way through high school and worked my way up to being considered a highly-ranked recruit. That early success was due to staying in a community with some of the best players in the country. Iron sharpens iron on the court, and I’m eternally grateful for all of the challenges that forced me to step up my game.
It eventually even helped me earn a trip to the Nike Skills Academy, where I had the opportunity to soak up knowledge from other great college players and NBA veterans.
All of those blessings along the way put me on the path that I’m on today.
When I arrived on campus, it was a tough transition for a few weeks, not going to lie.
Although I loved everything about the school and program, it was different because, well, it was a new environment.
Staying on top of school and adjusting to a new level of play came with some adversity. The speed of the game was significantly faster, and the players were bigger, stronger, and more experienced.
But as time went on, I continued to get more comfortable, and Alabama became my home away from home.
I grew as both a person and an athlete, and learned important things like punctuality, staying on top of my school work, going to bed on time, and taking care of my body.
Those were the phases of growing up, and I can proudly say my time at Alabama helped turn me into a man.
But you know who else had a tremendous impact on my development?
From the very beginning, you rooted for me and showed me all of the support and love I needed to reach the next level.
I can’t express how grateful I am for everything you’ve done for me, and I truly hope you know how much it meant to me.
The past two years came with so many lifelong lessons along the way.
I’ve learned how to maintain a relentless work ethic through playing hard and having a coachable personality. Respect must be earned at every level of the game.
The same goes for life off the court as well. Being respectful and building relationships with people has a funny way of coming full-circle.
One such instance occurred a while back as I was walking to class and was stopped by a student that was simply interested in a quick chat.
We talked for a little while and had a great conversation about the sport.
Fast forward to the present, he recently reached out on Twitter saying how much he appreciated me taking the time.
Believe me when I say this, those are the moments that make me proud. The fact that he remembered and wanted to stay connected meant a lot.
And I think it’s a perfect example of what makes you, our fans, so unique.
Those are the moments that will stick with me the most from my time at Alabama. It’s such a family-oriented school.
You all love sports here, and I could always count on you to support me through the ups and downs. It truly is a special place.
That’s why it was so difficult making the decision to leave and declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft.
I’m confident in my ability to take on new challenges at the next level, but my heart will always bleed crimson, don’t you forget that.
The ongoing quarantine during the Coronavirus pandemic has given me a chance to think back on the good times.
It seems like only yesterday I was a nervous freshman embarking on a college journey for the first time.
Now, I’m a man ready to lace up my shoes and represent my alma mater at the NBA level.
I’ll miss the interactions with you at Alabama, especially in the moments when I somehow found my way out of bounds on the court.
Please don’t also ever forget how much I enjoyed signing autographs and taking pictures with you and the kids at Coleman Coliseum after the games. Those were some of the best experiences I’ve had as a player.
Bama Nation encouraged me to be the best version of myself, and that’s something I’ll carry with me through the rest of my life on and off the court.
I know whatever comes will eventually take care of itself as long as I continue to work hard.
Don’t think of this as a goodbye letter. I’ll always be a Bama Boy at heart no matter what team or city I eventually go off to join.
My roots are embedded right here, always and forever. Roll Tide Roll.