Bama Hoops Hype

Way Too Early Look at the 2018-19 Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama Men's Basketball

The Alabama men’s basketball team finished its 2017-18 season with a whimper on Saturday afternoon. The Crimson Tide were blown out by the Villanova Wildcats, who are now the favorites in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

While most of the attention in Tuscaloosa has already moved on to the baseball diamond or the spring practice field, we continue to focus on the Tide’s basketball program. So with roughly eight months remaining until Alabama’s 2018-19 opener, we dive into some of the things we expect to see next season.

Depth Chart

(This is guessing on departures of Collin Sexton, Riley Norris and Ar’Mond Davis. Nothing is official on any of those.)

PG: Dazon Ingram, Jared Butler, Avery Johnson Jr., Lawson Schaffer

SG: John Petty, Tevin Mack, Jared Butler, Diante Wood

SF: Herbert Jones, Tevin Mack, Braxton Key

PF: Braxton Key, Galin Smith, Alex Reese

C: Donta Hall, Galin Smith, Javian Fleming

Returning Player to Make Biggest Stride in 2018

Donta Hall was definitely this player last offseason and it would be nice to see that improvement in another player before 2019. Dazon Ingram was more aggressive this season and should be better with the ball in his hands next season. However, his efficiency took a worrisome dip in his sophomore season. For me, this has to go to Galin Smith.

Smith already showed a huge stride in his game during the last two weeks of the season and it is clear this coaching staff loves his game. The Mississippi native could become the team’s starting center if Hall decides to go pro. Smith played in 18 minutes per game during the postseason and averaged 5.8 points per game. His strength in the post is a skill that cannot be matched easily. If Smith can up his speed and defense, you may see him playing 25 to 30 minutes per game next season.

Individual Statistical Leaders

Scoring

This is another spot that Ingram could fall in. His ability to create his own shot is not matched by anyone else currently on the team. With that being said, the Crimson Tide will likely have a very balanced attack next season. Ingram could be one of many players to average double digits in points next season – to name a few: Braxton Key, Donta Hall, Jared Butler, Tevin Mack. John Petty was a natural scorer in high school and if he can get over his road woes, he could set some scoring records at Alabama. He is a pure shooter with the athletic ability to slash against defenses. Petty is good enough to lead the SEC in scoring so I’ll take him in this one.

Rebounds

Rebounding was a problem for the Crimson Tide at times this season. However, what is impressive is the ability of the team’s guards to rebound the ball. Dazon Ingram was second on the team in rebounds. Alex Reese could be a surprise player here if he can find a regular spot in the rotation. But this spot is going to the obvious answer and the 2017-18 team leader: Donta Hall. He was not a rebounding machine but that could be something that Hall works on before his senior season. If he has any improvement in it at all, he should be seeing his average rebounds reach eight or nine per game.

Assists

In case you forgot, Alabama had some bad offensive stretches on offense this past season. And when you are led by a score-first point guard, your assist numbers tend to drop. Incoming recruit Jared Butler likes to attack the rim like Sexton did but Butler will be looking to dish the ball a little more often. Whether he starts or not, Butler should be seeing most of his minutes at point guard while Ingram bounces around at different positions. Butler’s distribution could end up earning him a starting role, especially if his assist-to-turnover ratio looks more like Avery Johnson’s and less like just another Alabama freshman point guard.

Best Player Off the Bench

If you thought this year’s rotation was tough to figure out, next year’s will be impossible. Who knows how many minutes players like Jared Butler and Tevin Mack will get next season. John Petty may be the team’s leading scorer but I would not be shocked to see him come off the bench either. Based off the depth chart above (which obviously favors returning players over newcomers), this spot goes to Tevin Mack. I am not 100 percent sure that Mack will stick around for next season but if he does, his skill set is perfect for Alabama. He shot 40 percent on 3-pointers in his sophomore season for Texas and took 11 shots per game while playing off the ball. Mack can be a reliable go-to scorer off the bench and that’s something that Alabama has not had in quite some time.

Player Drafted Highest in 2019

Collin Sexton will likely be drafted in the top half of the first round in 2018 so why not look way ahead and try to figure out the best NBA prospect on next season’s roster. Donta Hall is a guy that will definitely be given a chance at the next level but, because of his size, he likely will not be moving into the first round on many people’s boards. If there was one player that could raise his NBA stock the most in one season, it would be Herbert Jones.  Scouts have already raved about the current freshman, specifically his defense. Jones length and athleticism are exactly the kind of things that NBA teams look for in young players because those are two things that cannot be taught. If Jones can complete his game with consistent offensive production, he could jump right into the lottery pick discussion next season.

Season Prediction

Without having the entire schedule in front of us, it is tough to predict a team’s season. To be honest, all of these things are pretty impossible to predict so we’re just going to go with it. Alabama’s expectations should be to at least reach the same spot it did this season. That means at least 20 wins, at least the SEC semifinals and at least the Round of 32. And with the experience that returns, 25 wins should probably be the mark to go for. So without any knowledge of the Tide’s complete schedule or their draw in the NCAA Tournament, I predict a 25-12 season with an appearance in the Sweet 16.

Caleb Turrentine is the editor for Bama Hoops Hype. You can follow him on Twitter for in-game updates at @BamaHoopsHype.

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