Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama Basketball: Trevor Lacey's Transfer a Big Blow to Tide

The impending transfer of Alabama basketball guard Trevor Lacey shocked the country this afternoon, and completely deflated a fanbase that looked to finally have a season to look forward to with the amount of talent returning in 2013-14.

Lacey was the team’s leader in assists and the second leading scorer behind Trevor Releford last season. He was also the only player on the team to start all 36 games.

Lacey becomes the second player to transfer from the team this offseason after Moussa Gueye already decided to continue his basketball career elsewhere.

The decision to transfer is a shock because Lacey seemed elated about the Tide’s prospects for next season, even going as far to predict that the team would make the final four. He said that it was a “family decision” to transfer, and it seems that he wants to go somewhere where offense is a bit more of a priority.

Lacey’s decision to attend Alabama in 2011 was a massive recruiting victory for Anthony Grant and staff as he turned down offers from Kentucky and Kansas to stay in-state and play for the Tide.

His development was slower than most expected as he never did seem to reach his full potential in Tuscaloosa, which could be another reason for his transfer. A player as talented as Lacey has the next level in mind, and he must not think his best chance of getting to the NBA is playing for Anthony Grant.

Lack of player development has been a major criticism of Anthony Grant during his tenure at Alabama. Roster management is another one, and that has struck again this offseason with the departures of Lacey and Gueye.

So, what does Alabama do next season without Lacey? The team is certainly talented enough to make the NCAA Tournament without him, but getting there just got that much tougher now.

Tulane’s Ricky Tarrant decided to transfer to Alabama, but he will not be eligible to play until 2014-15. The Tide still boasts a bevy of talented guards with Trevor Releford, Levi Randolph, Rodney Cooper and Retin Obasohan returning next season. They’ll just have quite a bit of added weight thrown on their shoulders.

The development of Retin Obasohan as a redshirt freshman is encouraging, and he should be a major contributor next year. If he can continue to progress at the rate he progressed during this past season, then that will certainly soften the blow of losing Lacey.

JUCO transfer Algie Key will be eligible to play next season, and his decision to come to the Capstone just got that much more important. He averaged 17.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists as a sophomore at Barton Community College in Kansas.

A lot of fans have been complaining that Alabama has been stuck in neutral under Grant, and it is hard to argue that after today’s news. I’ve been a consistent supporter of Grant, but things like this can’t happen. You can’t lose a player of Lacey’s caliber to transfer.

I still believe in Grant, and I think he can build a consistent winner at Alabama. His seat just got warmer, and the pressure on him for next season is even higher than before after this. He has to get the Tide out of neutral, into the NCAA Tournament, and hopefully make some noise while they are there to restore some faith from the fanbase.

Here’s hoping Grant proves all the doubters wrong in 2013-14; because, if not, then Alabama may look in another direction.

Follow John on Twitter.

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