Alabama Basketball: Tide faces rebuilt Jacksonville State in opener

The Alabama basketball season begins Wednesday night in Coleman Coliseum against a mostly unknown Jacksonville State team.

For Nate Oats’ Alabama basketball team, the season-opener is not about the opponent. The Crimson Tide will be looking to begin the meshing of eight new players with top returners John Petty and Herbert Jones. In the roster of 13 scholarship players, only four saw action for the Crimson Tide last season.

Three more were in Tuscaloosa last season, either sitting out a transfer or unable to play because of injury. One of last season’s injured players, Juwan Gary has not fully recovered and is not expected to play until later in the season.

The meshing of eight new players would be nine guys except, freshman, Alex Tchikou will miss the season due to an Achilles injury.

The 11, healthy, scholarship players should all see action against Jax State on Wednesday. Nate Oats’ early-season substitution pattern will be more noteworthy than who he starts. Oats does not always start his five best players, preferring to leave some offensive firepower ready for substitution. Unlike recent Alabama basketball seasons, Nate Oats will have the option of benching anyone not playing hard enough, especially on defense. For the most part, there was solid effort last season, but players did tire and players usually choose to rest on defense.

As much as Nate Oats loves his high-tempo offense style, he values tough defense as well. This season, bench depth will allow Oats to insert players to plug any defensive weaknesses.

Jacksonville State will also be developing a roster, filled with new players. The Gamecocks return only one double-digit scorer from last season. He is 6-foot-7, senior, Kayne Henry, from London, England. They have some size, with two 6-foot-9 players, a 6-foot-10 and a six-foot-11 player.

Playing in the Ohio Valley Conference, Jacksonville was 13-19 last season and 8-10 in conference play. They played only one strong opponent last year, losing to Tennessee 75-53. Jax State played the Tide in Tuscaloosa in 2015, losing 67-59, in overtime.

New Alabama Basketball Players

This list includes team members who set out last season.

  • Jahvon Quinerly – Sophomore Guard
  • Josh Primo – Freshman Guard
  • Juwan Gary – Redshirt Freshman Forward
  • James Rojas – Junior Forward
  • Keon Ambrose-Hylton – Freshman Wing
  • Keon Ellis – Junior – Guard, Wing
  • Darius Miles – Freshman – Forward
  • Jordan Bruner – Grad Transfer – Center
  • Alex Tchikou – Freshman – Forward (injured)

Check out more roster details here.

The Alabama Crimson Tide returns four players with one to three years of playing experience. At least two of them, John Petty and Herbert Jones are expected to be top SEC players.