#64 Alabama Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Alabama Crimson Tide
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #64
Conference Rank: #6 SEC
For the third time in four years, Alabama went to the NIT. This time around they fell at Creighton in the first round, but Coach Avery Johnson had a successful debut season with the Crimson Tide and the future is bright. But this year could be another NIT campaign as the Tide continue to build towards better days to come.
2015-16 Record: 18-15, 8-10
2015-16 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Avery Johnson
Coach Record: 18-15 at Alabama, 18-15 overall
Who’s Out:
Retin Obasohan was easily the most dangerous scorer on the team. As a senior he averaged 17.6 points and was the only player on the team who attempted more than 100 free-throws. Obasohan was the player who would attack the basket effectively, yet he was a dangerous shooter too. Arthur Edwards started beside Obasohan in the backcourt. Edwards was the team’s most prolific outside shooter and connected on 39.4 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. Justin Coleman ended up playing a very important role last season. He earned a few starts and averaged 7.8 points and a team high 3.3 assists. Coleman will continue his collegiate career at Samford. Michael Kessens started 21 games in Alabama frontcourt as a junior. He did not score much, but he was a decent rebounder.
Who’s In:
Coach Johnson loaded up his team with experience that can step in and immediately make an impact. Corban Collins and Bola Olaniyan are a couple of graduate transfers who will at least provide quality depth. Collins comes from Morehead State where he averaged 11.0 points and 3.0 assists last season. He began his career at LSU and knows the SEC well. Olaniyan was a regular starter in the Southern Illinois frontcourt. He will not do much scoring for Alabama, but he is a good rebounder. Nick King and Avery Johnson, Jr. sat out last season as regular transfers. King is a big 6-7 wing who averaged 7.2 points and 4.8 rebounds two years ago at Memphis. Junior college transfer Ar’mond Davis may not have Division I experience, but he is a very talented shooting guard who can use his size to shoot over defenders and attack the basket effectively. The lone incoming freshman is Braxton Key. With the other experienced forwards coming into the program, Key should have a year to develop. However, he is a very talented small forward who could be difficult to leave off of the court.
Who to Watch:
Six contributors from last season are back so this is not a team that will have to rely entirely on the experienced newcomers. Shannon Hale is the team’s top returning scorer with 10.8 points per game. The 6-8 senior forward was not a regular starter last season, but starting or not, Hale will play a big role on this team. He is a very good scorer both inside and out and his ability to stretch the defense will open up space for the rest of the team. Jimmie Taylor was a regular starter in the frontcourt last season and averaged 5.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. Donta Hall added some weight to his 6-9 frame and he will be ready to play a larger role if he can find the minutes over all of the newcomers. On the perimeter, Dazon Ingram and Riley Norris will compete for starting jobs. Ingram played in just seven games as a freshman, but he started those seven games and was well on his way to being a great point guard before suffering an injury and missing the rest of the year. With a healthy Ingram, Alabama has their point guard for the next four years. Norris turned into a pretty good scorer as a sophomore, connecting on 37.5 percent of his attempts from long range. If he keeps shooting like that and gets more aggressive attacking the basket, the big 6-7 wing could be in for a big year.
Final Projection:
This could be a very fun year for Alabama. Coach Johnson wants to play faster and now he should have the bodies he needs to keep his team running up and down the floor. This team has experience and they have depth at just about every position. And they have versatility too. The question is whether or not they have the talent to compete day in and day out in the SEC. And losing a player like Obasohan is a tough blow, so it may take some time for Alabama to find a new player who they want to take all of those big shots. The longer it takes, the bigger the uphill climb will be for Alabama to reach the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Dazon Ingram, Freshman, Guard, 7.7 points per game
Corban Collins, Senior, Guard, 11.0 points per game (at Morehead State)
Riley Norris, Junior, Guard, 7.5 points per game
Shannon Hale, Senior, Forward, 10.8 points per game
Jimmie Taylor, Senior, Forward, 5.2 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 66.5 (304th in nation, 14th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.9 (76, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.2 (260, 10)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.9 (49, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.8 (91, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.9 (209, 8)
Free-Throw Percentage: 64.3 (327, 13)
Rebound Margin: -3.6 (293, 13)
Assists Per Game: 10.5 (331, 14)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.3 (237, 12)
Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#50 Braxton Key