- Alex Scarborough, ESPN Staff Writer
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The season is more than four months away, but University of Alabama coach Anthony Grant was ready to talk all things Crimson Tide basketball on Monday's SEC teleconference. Grant addressed the commitment of Devonta Pollard, the NBA hopes of JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell, and more. Here's what the coach entering his fourth season in Tuscaloosa had to say:
Opening statement: "We're excited about the upcoming season. I think we have a good group of guys returning to our team. We obviously lose a few key pieces: JaMychal Green, Tony Mitchell and the departure of Charles Hankerson to a transfer. But I think our guys that will be returning are looking forward to the challenge that our league will impose upon us. Obviously, it will be a new look to Texas A&M and Missouri coming into the league, playing 18 league games. I'm excited about the future of the SEC. I think we've got some very good teams, the potential for this year to be one of the best in quite a while is there. I think if you would poll coaches across the league, you'd hear consistently that this could be a banner year for our league in terms of numbers of teams that we could potentially get into the postseason."
On the commitment of Pollard: "Devonta is someone we've recruited for quite a while. Probably someone we recruited from the minute we started to recruit when I arrived. Certainly we feel like he has a chance to be a major player in our league and a big asset to our team. He brings a variety of things to our team, from his skill set in terms of his ability to score, to affect the game defensively, to play multiple positions. He's a great teammate. He has a high basketball I.Q. in terms of understanding what needs to go on in the course of a game. So, I've been really impressed getting to know him and his family over the course of recruiting him. Certainly for us, the big thing for me as we continue to build our program is that we add pieces that have an opportunity to come in and make significant contributions to our team. I think Devonta does that. He's the only guy that we signed this year, but certainly fills a need we have. We fill the needs for our program."
On if all his eggs were in one basket with Pollard: "Probably. It worked out so we certainly felt like he was the guy that was going to be a priority for us. We recruited some other guys over the course of the season. For one reason or another they chose go elsewhere or we chose to go a different direction. We felt like we put a significant amount of time into his recruitment and felt like the relationship there with him, his family, the guys on our staff -- our staff did a terrific job building those relationships. We're glad it worked out."
On the NBA potential of Green and Mitchell: "There are several conversations with several teams about those guys. I think they're still in the process of working out for teams heading up to the draft. So, I think you never know with the draft, but certainly there's been a good amount of interest from a lot of teams on both of those young men. We certainly wish them the best and looking forward to seeing what transpires here on Thursday."
On the challenges playing the second half of last season without Mitchell: "Tony certainly was a big part of our team. When we made the separation, he was one of our leading scorers and leading rebounders. I've always said this about Tony, he's one of those guys that can make plays. He doesn't necessarily have to have plays ran toward him. He can make plays. He's a big-time competitor. Those things, certainly we missed."
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