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TideNation mailbag

2/27/2012

It was a terrific weekend for Alabama athletics with basketball pulling off its third consecutive victory, baseball sweeping a three-game series and softball winning five in a row from Friday through Sunday. The week ahead could determine a lot for the basketball team as coach Anthony Grant attempts to win the final two games of the regular season and lock up a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

With that in mind, let's look ahead at the future of Alabama basketball and what lies ahead for the football team with spring practice a few weeks away.

The TideNation Mailbag is only as good as the questions you ask, so get your questions for next week to tidenation.espn@gmail.com or Tweet us at @AlexS_ESPN or @GregO_ESPN.

Now, on to your questions this week.

Patrick Blockwood (@Rock10383) asks: Do you think Tony Mitchell will ever play at Alabama again?

Scarborough: Reading between the lines, the possibility of Mitchell returning seems slim. We haven’t seen him around the gym since his suspension and there have been no whispers of his return. I thought it was telling that when Anthony Grant was asked whether he expected Mitchell to return, his response was a flat, “I don’t know.” He didn’t follow up with “maybe” or “we’ll see,” he just left it at that. To me, that doesn’t sound like the typical coach-speak, looking on the bright side of things. To me, it seems that Mitchell’s days with the program could be numbered.

Chris Glenn (@Chrisglenn79) asks: Can you break down the possibilities for Bama in regards to seeding for SEC tourney?

Scarborough: Alabama appears to have a firm grasp on fourth in the SEC after reeling off three consecutive victories. It will be difficult, but not impossible, for the Tide to climb to third with Vanderbilt facing a tough home game against Florida on Tuesday, followed by a road trip to Tennessee on Saturday. Alabama has it much easier with only Ole Miss and Auburn remaining. Assuming UA holds on to the four-seed, the Tide will open with a first-round bye before facing either the five-seed (Tennessee as it stands) or the 12-seed (South Carolina as it stands). That game would be played on March 9 at 2:30 p.m. CT. It looks like a great draw at first glance, but then you look up and see Kentucky on the same side of the bracket, poised for a third-round matchup. If Alabama can sneak into the third-seed, the Tide would fall into a much better situation. UA would face the six- or 11-seed in the first round, and most likely Florida in the game to follow.

Chris Richmond asks: How serious is Dee Liner's interest in Alabama? Also, Alabama's 2013 class is off to arguably the best start of any in the school's history. Will this be Saban's best group yet?

Ostendorf: I recently spoke with Liner, and his commitment to Auburn is solid at this point. With that said, Alabama’s still coming after him, and he’s still listening. Although he grew up a Tigers fan, Liner is aware of the success Alabama has enjoyed over the last three years, and he could actually be a better fit in the Crimson Tide’s 3-4 defense. I don’t expect this battle to be over anytime soon. More coming on Liner this week.

To answer the second part of your question, if all of the pieces fall in place, this 2013 recruiting class could very well be Saban’s best yet. Personally, I was impressed with what he was able to do last year, bringing in top players at need positions. This year, UA has the luxury to go for the best players available, regardless of position. The class is off to a great start, but there’s a certain player in Georgia who would have to get on board before we start talking best ever.

@CFBW asks: How legitimate is Georgia’s shot at (Reuben) Foster? Rumblings they are getting back into it. Chances (Robert) Nkemdiche goes somewhere else?

Ostendorf: Let me put it this way: I think the chances that Georgia swipes Foster is greater than the chance that Nkemdiche goes anywhere but Alabama. Foster visited Athens over the weekend and evidently had a good time. One of his good friends, Tray Matthews is already committed to the Bulldogs. In the end, I think it comes down to where he can be the most successful and who will take the best care of him and his family.

Chris Farris (@cfarris10) asks: Is Cyrus (Kouandijo) going to be available for the spring?

Scarborough: There has been very little talk on the injury front, which is par for the course under Nick Saban. We probably won’t know about Kouandijio’s availability until the day practice begins.

Marcus Green asks: What's going on with Jerrell Harris. I haven't heard his name on then NFL radar. Did he get invited to the combine? What's his projection?

Scarborough: Harris was not invited to the NFL combine and has fallen off the draft radar despite his prototypical size and plus-speed. Remember, he did not make the trip to the Senior Bowl or the East-West Shrine Game. He most likely will not get drafted but could wind up on a team through free agency if he’s able to impress scouts at Alabama’s Pro Day or in individual workouts.

@JBBarley asks: In you opinion, will Foster flip to UGA?

Ostendorf: See above. Personally, I don’t think he flips, but there’s a lot of outside pressure for him to stay in state and go to Georgia.

Austin Spraggins (@AustinSpraggins) asks: Will Justin Taylor and Darius Philon affect Alabama's recruiting down the road?

Ostendorf: With the way Alabama is rolling right now in recruiting, I don’t think the ‘grayshirt’ situations will have much of an effect, at least in the short term. However, I can tell you that it may have strained the relationships between the UA coaching staff and the coaches at those schools. I also think Saban may be more selective with who he offers scholarships to.

Jeremy Gargis (@BigJeremyG) asks: What sleeper from the state of AL could Bama land in 2013? A Darren Lake type under-the-radar guy.

Ostendorf: That’s tough. Those types of kids usually don’t emerge until the summer camps. I loved what I saw from Jarren Johnson, an athlete from Jackson High School, in the Class 4A state title game last year. I’m not sure where he fits, but he’s a special talent. Also, keep an eye on defensive back Marquez White from Northview High School. He’s a two-sport athlete who’s just now emerging on the scene.

Corey Behel asks: Besides DeVon Walker, who is Alabama looking at for basketball recruiting? Any chance for a big name to pick the Tide?

Ostendorf: The biggest name for Alabama basketball in 2012 is still Devonta Pollard. Walker has come on late, but I think the UA staff is putting all their eggs in Pollard’s basket. He’s a five-star recruit and a McDonald’s All-American, who could make an immediate impact for this team next year, especially with the unclear future of Tony Mitchell. More on Pollard in the next question.

@BamaBasketball asks: Who do you think the basketball team will land in the 2012 class? Still a good shot with Pollard?

Ostendorf: I think the staff feels pretty good about their chances with DeVon Walker, the guard from Florida who just visited for the Tennessee game. Walker is also considering Clemson, Florida and Kansas State. As for Pollard, Alabama has done essentially everything it can do to recruit him. I believe it comes down to Mississippi State or the Tide with Georgetown as the wild card.

Bryant Northington (@Bryant91092) asks: Did Pollard have a chance to come to our game Saturday?

Ostendorf: Pollard did not make it to the game. He played in the state semifinals that day where his team won to advance to the state championship. Originally, he was scheduled to go to Georgetown on an official visit this weekend but couldn’t make it because of the playoff game. No word on when or if he will reschedule the trip.

Christopher Owens (@cowens25) asks: What is the 2013 recruiting class looking like for round ball?

Ostendorf: Alabama already has a commitment from big man Shannon Hale, a player I like a lot. He can do a lot of things offensively. The Tide would also like to keep ESPNU Super 60 star Jimmie Taylor close to home. Taylor, who plays down the road at Greensboro High School, is high on Alabama right now, but if Kentucky offers, that could make it interesting. UA still likes New Jersey point guard Jaren Sina, who was committed to UA but since reopened his recruitment. The staff is talking to a number of other high profile athletes, and if all goes right, the 2013 class could rival this year’s freshman class, which was ranked top five nationally.