Alabama Coach Anthony Grant may have thought that recruiting for this year was finished. That was before he had a conversation with Justin Knox. Like everyone else, Grant had heard the rumors of a Knox transfer, so he called the upcoming senior inside player in for a conversation.
Monday Coach Anthony Grant announced that Justin Knox is leaving the Alabama program after he completes his degree requirements in August. And Grant, who confirmed the signings of two late prospects for the Crimson Tide, said he continues to recruit. Indeed, he was about an hour late for a press briefing and the inference was that he was showing a prospect and his family around campus.
Even though Grant had heard the rumor of a possible Knox transfer, he said it still caught the coach by surprise. “I didn’t see it coming,” he said. He added that in the current environment of 18-22 year olds he probably should not have been surprised.
The big surprise is that Knox told Grant he was leaving in order to “be a bigger part of a program and maybe put himself in position to play at the next level.” The coach said that Knox came to the decision with his family.
Obviously, Knox will have to be a much bigger part of whatever program he chooses to join if he intends to play in the NBA. He played in all 32 games for Alabama last year and had 17 starts, but in averaging just under 20 minutes per game, he averaged only 6.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per outing.
Nevertheless, Grant said, “This late in the game, it’s a big loss.”
Grant said that Knox did not tell the coach where he would transfer to. Alabama did grant him a release from his scholarship. Internet rumors have suggested he will go to Alabama-Birmingham. Last year after earning his degree, Yamene Coleman transferred to Troy University to play a fifth year.
Grant said that he had enjoyed coaching Knox. “I wish Justin nothing but success in his future endeavors,” Grant said. “We’re thankful for the time, dedication, and commitment he has put into building this program.”
In a written release, Knox was quoted as saying, “My three years at Alabama have been a great experience. I thank Coach Grant and my teammates for everything they have done for me, but feel at this time it is in my best interest to continue my academic and athletic career elsewhere.”
The coach did say that Demetrius Jemison, a 6-8, 240-pound inside player who missed all of last season with an injury, would be back for his fifth and final year in 2010-11 and that the prognosis is good for him to be completely healed.
Grant confirmed the signings of two players in the late recruiting period, which ends in mid-May. He said that both combination guard Kendall Rurant and inside player Jason Carter had signed their scholarship papers.
Durant, 6-3, 185, is a native of Washington, D.C., who played the past two seasons at Weatherford (Texas) Community College and averaged 16 points per game as a sophomore, 15 points as a freshman.
Carter, a 6-8, 230-pound forward who is originally from New Orleans, but who played last season at Christian Life Center Academy in Humble, Texas, averaged 14.6 points and 10 rebounds per game in leading his team to a 30-1 record.
In the early signing period last November, Alabama added Trevor Releford and Charles Hankerson, Jr.
Grant also announced a “flip” on his staff. Tony Pujol, who has been director of basketball operations, and Antoine Pettway, who has been an assistant coach, will switch positions in a transition that will take place over the next month.
Grant called it a “win-win,” good for both men and good for the program.