Former Alabama guard Trevor Lacey was released from his scholarship and has elected to transfer elsewhere. (AP photo)
Countless times after the season is over, players declare their intentions to leave their schools: for the NBA Draft, for higher competition in a better conference, for more playing time at a lower level, a multitude of reasons.
For former Alabama guard Trevor Lacey, it was none of the above.
“Probably about a week ago, two weeks ago, his mom and dad came in and met with me and expressed a desire for him to have that option to transfer,” Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said. “So, I talked to them and they expressed, for them, where he was in terms of the opportunities that he had here, where he was in terms of his overall development.
“After I met with them, Trevor came in and we all met together and I think his thing was he understood where his parents were coming from….this past weekend, they met as a family and he came back on Tuesday and said that, as a family, that’s what they thought was in their best interest.”
Grant wished Lacey the best as he goes for an undetermined location.
“I think, for some of them, the opportunity to see it all from a different perspective helps, so I hope that’s what happens for him and I certainly wish him the best of luck,” Grant said.
The search for the replacements, however, is one Grant foresees going well.
“I think any time you have change, there’s a chance for a guy to step up,” Grant said.
In the frontcourt, all signs point to center Carl Engstrom, who’s recovery from a torn ACL in early December got high remarks from Grant on his recovery.
“The doctors said that Carl’s ability to get himself back to get ready to play is probably top five that they’ve seen coming off of the injury that he had: not top five percent, top five period,” Grant said. “That’s a testament to his work ethic. By our last team workout, he was able to go through contact drills with our guys. That’s remarkable.
“When you look at him and Nick Jacobs in the frontcourt, plus the new guys we’re bringing in, Jimmie Taylor and Shannon Hale, I think it gives us a nice nucleus in the frontcourt.”
The clear candidate to fill the empty minutes in the backcourt was the Most Improved Player as voted by the coaches, Retin Obasohan, but as the leader of a committee.
“I thought by the end of the year, Retin Obasohan had really stepped up to the opportunity given to him,” Grant said. “We’ve got a guy like Rodney Cooper, who had to play a lot of four last year, and now he can swing back to more of his natural position on the wing.”
It has been more than just players leaving the Crimson Tide program in the five weeks that have passed since the end of the season, Alabama lost an assistant coach as well.
“We lost a staff member, and a dear friend of mine, a guy that is very, very dear to me in Dan Hipsher,” Grant said. “He got an opportunity to be the head coach at Texas-Pan American and on one hand you’re very happy for him and excited for the opportunity he has, but on the other hand, it’s almost like losing a family member.”
Hipsher’s four years on Grant’s staff was a reunion for the two, after Hipsher recruited Grant to the Dayton Flyers out of high school.
“For me, personally, he’s a guy that gave me an opportunity when I was a 16-year-old kid down in Miami when he was an assistant coach at Dayton when he came down and recruited me,” Grant said. “He gave me an opportunity to play college basketball and get an education and that was something I was always thankful for.”
The search for Hipsher’s replacement has not been a priority of Grant’s, as one of the heaviest recruiting seasons has taken priority.
“We’ve been pretty hectic since the season ended,” Grant said. “What I’ve done right now is kind of put that on hold. I think we’ve got enough in the office that we can manage what we’re doing right now.
“We’re very fortunate with the staff we have in right now, so I feel like I can kind of take my time to make the right decision so we get the right piece in.”
Filling out the 2013-2014 slate
Looking away from the future roster and towards the rosters to be faced, Grant laid out a pretty impressive lineup of teams Alabama will be battling in next season’s Preseason NIT: Duke, Arizona and Rutgers.
Grant said the rest of the schedule is rather fluid, with some exceptions like a return trip from Texas Tech, but some other games have yet to be filled.