Two basketball items

Two big basketball stories happened Wednesday.
First the good news: JaMychal Green performed well in the McDonald’s All-American game. Green scored 12 points on 5-7 from the field and 2-3 from the free throw line. He grabbed five rebounds and notched two assists. You can read a game story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at the bottom of this post.

The bad news: Richard Hendrix declared for the NBA draft.

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(UA) TUSCALOOSA – Richard Hendrix, a 6-foot-9 All-Southeastern Conference forward who was a junior on the University of Alabama’s basketball team this past season announced on Wednesday that he will explore the 2008 NBA Draft.

“After the season, I had to come to a decision to make with my family and the coaches,” said Hendrix who averaged 17.8 points and 10.1 rebounds this past season at Alabama. “I want to put my name in the 2008 NBA Draft. I also came to the decision that as of right now, I do not plan to sign with an agent as of right now. I’m going into this procedure with the highest hopes and the best of expectations.

“A lot went into this decision, just talking to Coach (Mark Gottfried), getting his opinion and my family’s opinion. Coach told me he supports me and that he has no problem with me going through this procedure and seeing where I am,” said Hendrix. “It’s always been a goal of mine to play at the next level, and if the opportunity presents itself, I’m going to give it a try.”

His Crimson Tide coach, Mark Gottfried, sat beside Hendrix as he made the announcement in front of a room full of media gathered in Coleman Coliseum’s media room where the Tide holds its basketball press conferences.

“I think Richard has done a good job and his family has done a good job of just trying to evaluate what the best move is right now,” said Gottfried. “I think Richard wants to go after this full speed ahead, and I support him on that. I think that if you’re going to do it, that’s where your minds should be. At the same time as you watch, they’re going to be very cautious of what’s being said and what he hears, and he’s going to make a great decision. I think that’s one of the things that his family has always done a good job with, all the way back to when he was being recruited. I’m confident of that and I want to support him 100 percent. I think it’s something he feels in his heart is right to do right now, and because of that, anything I can do to help him, I want to help him in any way I can.”

Hendrix led the SEC in double-doubles in points and rebounding this season with 17 in his 32 games played. He is the only player in the league this season to average a double-double with his 17.8 points and 10.1 rebounds. In league games, he and Ole Miss’s Dwayne Curtis finished tied for first in rebounding and will likely be the league’s rebounding leader for 2008 in all games as well by the time the postseason ends. He has scored 1,327 career points in three seasons at Alabama which ranks 18th all-time for a 14.0 career average and his 849 career rebounds ranks 11th all-time at Alabama (8.9 career average).  The Athens, Ala., native was voted 1st Team All-SEC by both the league’s coaches and the Associated Press this season. He was 2nd Team All-SEC in 2007 as a sophomore and was a 2006 Freshman All-SEC selection as well as a Rivals.com Freshman All-America team member. He was a 2008 John R. Wooden candidate.

Hendrix will graduate in May with a degree in communications, earning that degree in a program record three years. His roommate and teammate Greg Cage will also earn his degree in May within three years of enrolling at Alabama.

While the consensus estimate is that Hendrix returns next season due to low draft status, it is hard to see this as anything but bad news for the troubled basketball program.

Is it a vote of no confidence in Mark Gottfried? Or is it just a good business decision by Hendrix?

There can be little doubt Hendrix and Ronald Steele have seen their draft status sink over the last few years. Both need impressive seniors seasons to turn it around—or at least that is the conventional wisdom.

Most troubling is the specter that Gottfried could begin next year without Hendrix on the court, and with Steele unable to recover from his injury. That is a worst case scenario, but it looks more likely today than yesterday.

East wins McDonald’s All-American game