- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- It’s never too early to start developing relationships in recruiting, and the University of Alabama hosted two top basketball prospects for the class of 2015 over the weekend, as Rockwall, Texas, teammates Austin Grandstaff and Elijah Thomas visited Tuscaloosa for the Crimson Tide’s skills camp.
“It was good,” Thomas said. “We saw a lot of activities and what not, met a lot of people. We played video games in the hotel room, went swimming and just chilled. We had a good visit. It was fun.”
Thomas, a 6-foot-8 five-star, ranked No. 7 nationally in 2015, was surprised with how much he enjoyed the visit to UA.
“The campus seemed like a big, old happy family,” he said. “You think it’s a football school until you come, and it is more than a football school. That impressed me a lot.”
Grandstaff, a 6-foot-4 point guard, had a solid day at the camp, and he too came away impressed with the Tide’s basketball program.
“When I first got here, I didn’t think it was going to be basketball oriented because I thought it was a big football school, which it is,” Grandstaff said. “But after talking to the coaches and getting a feel from everybody, it’s really a basketball school, too.”
The Texas duo, joined by AAU teammate Matt McQuaid, arrived at Alabama on Thursday and spent the day Friday touring the campus and hanging out with current Alabama players. On Saturday, all three prospects worked out at the camp.
“The facilities are some of the nicest I’ve seen,” Grandstaff said. “I like it a lot, and the coaching staff is my favorite coaching staff so far. They’re nice people. I talked to Coach [Anthony] Grant for a little bit, just me and him for about five minutes today.
“It was good. He was telling me about how their days are, their practice days and what they do. He was telling me I need to get down for a football game.”
At this point, both Grandstaff and Thomas hold offers from Texas A&M. Grandstaff has an early offer from Arizona, and Thomas was recently offered by Illinois. They both say Duke, Kansas and Texas have all expressed interest.
However, Alabama is now one of the top schools for both Grandstaff and Thomas after the visit.
“Alabama is one of the best schools,” Thomas said. “I’ve been on like four visits, and this is the best visit I’ve been on.”
“They definitely are one of the schools in the mix,” Grandstaff said. “I wouldn’t have thought that when I came down here, but after this visit, they are definitely in the mix.”
3dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough