- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
Before his junior year, University of Alabama basketball commitment Shannon Hale transferred to North Carolina's Christ School, a basketball powerhouse known for producing the Plumlee brothers who play for Duke.
Hale, a 2013 recruit, and the rest of the team came up short this year and lost in the state semi-finals. But it proved to be a productive season that helped the future Crimson Tide star improve his game.
“The season went pretty good,” Hale said. “It was what I expected. I think I did pretty well. During the year, I tried to improve on rebounding and scoring inside, and I was just trying to help my team win.”
Towards the end of the year, Hale was putting up more than 20 points a game. Although the 6-foot-8 prospect is gaining more recognition, his commitment to Alabama remains solid, and other schools have essentially stopped recruiting him.
Even with the most important stretch of the season looming for the Tide, the UA coaching staff has stayed in constant contact with their prized recruit.
“I talk to them maybe twice a week,” Hale said. “Usually, I talk to Coach (John) Brannen, but sometimes I talk to Coach (Anthony) Grant. We’ve been talking about my season, talking about their season, and they always ask how things are going in school and things like that.”
Hale has kept a close eye on Alabama’s season and has been impressed with how the team has overcome adversity with the suspensions to put themselves in position to make the NCAA Tournament.
“I think their season’s going pretty good,” Hale said. “They had some things happen to set them back a little bit, but they’re coming back. They’ve looked good.”
The Tennessee native has also been blown away by the atmosphere he’s seen on TV at Coleman Coliseum this season, especially during Saturday’s win over Mississippi State.
“I love the crowd that they bring to games, so I’m looking forward to playing there.”
The Crimson Tide play their final home game of the season Wednesday night against in-state rival Auburn and it should be another hostile environment as the only tickets remaining are student tickets.
Hale is hoping to set up a visit to Tuscaloosa soon.
5dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough