Alabama Basketball: NBA Draft decisions huge for Crimson Tide and other SEC teams

(Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images) /

For Alabama basketball and other SEC teams, NBA Draft decisions could determine seasons.

Upcoming NBA Draft decisions are pivotal for Alabama basketball and other SEC schools. The prospects for success in the 2020-21 season are bright for the Crimson Tide independent of John Petty’s eventual decision. Petty would certainly be a big plus for next season’s Tide roster. Some Alabama basketball fans believe Herb Jones’ decision to return was more important. Jones will arguably be the best defender in the SEC. His emotional leadership cannot be overstated.

The NBA has a new schedule for the Draft and the NCAA responded by giving college players more time for a decision. The NBA Draft has been moved from June 25 to Oct. 15, with the next NBA season slated to begin on Dec. 1. College players, not having signed with an agent, have until 10 days after the NBA Combine or Aug. 3 (whichever comes first) to make a decision.

Known and possible NBA early-entry will impact most SEC teams. Kentucky will have the most attrition. John Calipari is accustomed to rebuilding his roster every season. Losing the Wildcats’ top six scorers from last season is not likely a big problem.

Georgia and Mississippi State already know two key players are exiting for the NBA. Georgia is losing Rayshaun Hammonds and Anthony Edwards. Mississippi State will lose Nick Weatherspoon and Reggie Perry. Ben Howland may also have Robert Woodward opt to turn professional. Vanderbilt is losing Aaron Nesmith and possibly Saben Lee. Issac Okoro is leaving Auburn.

The three schools at greatest risk of losing key a player(s) are Tennessee, Arkansas and LSU. For Rick Barnes, the Vols could make a big comeback in the 2020-21 season. It will be much harder if Yves Pons chooses the NBA Draft.

Eric Musselman has done a significant rebuild with the Razorbacks. Mason Jones will not return but Musselman has brought in a slew of top high school and transfer talent. A big roster decision is beyond Musselman’s control. The Razorbacks were 19-7 last season with Isaiah Joe in the lineup and 1-5, without him. If he returns, the Hogs could improve on last season’s 20 wins.

Then there is Will Wade’s ‘strong-ass’ offer, LSU Bengal Tigers. Though not official, it is broadly expected the NCAA will give LSU a ‘Notice of Allegations’ in the coming weeks or months. Should that happen well before the NBA Draft deadline, Wade may see more player exits. LSU must already replace the offensive production of Skyler Mays. Emmit Williams is leaving early. Javonte Smart and Trendon Watford have not made an early-entry decision. Few things would satisfy Alabama basketball fans more than decay of Will Wade’s roster.

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A good source for NBA early entry is this list. Alabama basketball fans shout not worry Jordan Bruner is still on the ‘maybe’ list. Crimson Tide basketball insiders believe Bruner is seeking feedback on what he needs to improve before the 2021 Draft.