Saturday, July 18, 2009

Shawn Kemp, Jr To Alabama: Delayed A Year

Shawn Kemp, Jr. was one of the top 2009 recruits for the University of Alabama, and he decided to stick with the school after the coaching change to Anthony Grant. Unfortunately, it has now been announced that he has failed to qualify academically and will spend a season at Hargrave Military Academy. He insists that he is still committed to Alabama, and simply now becomes a 2010 recruit.

I spoke about Alabama's 2009-10 chances most recently here. I did think that Kemp would contribute as a freshman, but it's not like he was going to start. He was simply going to add depth. The fact that he won't be there won't seriously damage any chances they have of making the 2010 Tournament. In fact, assuming that Kemp sticks with it and becomes a four-year player at Alabama, this might be a blessing in disguise. He'll be one year more mature throughout his career, which certainly can be nothing but a good thing for a member of the Kemp family.

Also, it's not as if Alabama is one small player away from being an SEC contender right now. Here is my full 2009-10 SEC preview, although it's a bit out-dated considering how much has happened to Alabama since then. More recent takes on the conference are here and here. No matter what happens, Alabama is not going to be in the same class as Kentucky, Tennessee or Mississippi State. I'd say that Florida and Vanderbilt are clearly better as well. So in my mind, their best case scenario is to be the sixth best team in the SEC, and to sneak into the Tournament as a 10-12 seed. More realistically, I think they'll be a bubble team that will most likely be spending Selection Sunday just hoping to make the NIT.

Alabama has a fairly nice base of young players. They certainly don't have a Florida or Kentucky quality recruiting class, and they won't anytime soon, but Alabama's kids are much more likely to stick around for four or five years, and that will help even the playing field. They might be an SEC West contender as early as 2010-11. If Kemp can be a part of that effort then Alabama fans will be content to wait a year.

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