September 20, 2009

Releford talks Tide commitment

Alabama basketball coach Anthony Grant landed his biggest commitment yet since being hired at Alabama earlier this year when Shawnee Mission (Kan.) point guard Trevor Releford gave his commitment to Grant while on an official visit to Tuscaloosa this weekend. The four-star prospect had offers from a number of the nation's top basketball programs but ultimately decided to play for the Crimson Tide after what he described as a surprising official visit.

"Oklahoma was my leader after my visit there. I was really sold on them but I wanted to check out Alabama one more time," Releford said. "I was just so blown away by everything I saw on my visit, I couldn't leave town without committing to Coach Grant. I just knew it felt right."

"Coach Grant and all the players I talked to were very honest about where they feel like the team is right now. They let me know what kind of impact they think I can make right away."

The 5-foot-10, 170-pound guard said the idea of having a strong impact on a program was appealing to him not only because of the opportunity it presented for him personally, but because it would be a challenge Releford feels he can meet.

"Alabama is not a basketball school and a lot of people I talked to sort of questioned why I would want to go somewhere that doesn't really have a reputation as a basketball school. I always felt from the beginning that I wanted to go somewhere that I could make an impact on the program, not just while I'm there but the kind of impact that can sort of change the whole program. Talking to the guys that are there right now, you can tell they are hungry to take the program to the next level. I feel like have a chance to help change the way people look at Alabama basketball."

Releford, the nation's No. 98 overall prospect according to Rivals.com, said his relationship with Grant along with Grant's history and reputation as a coach were key in his decision.

"Coach Grant told me from day one how much he needed me for his team. I mean, every coach tells you that but Coach Grant really seemed to make me a priority as soon as he was hired at Alabama. He made me feel like I was the most important recruit on his mind."

"I also looked at Coach Grant's track record with point guards. He's helped a lot of guys get into the league and that's where I hope to take my career one day."

While Releford was impressed with Grant and his staff early on, he was unsure about the lifestyle change of moving from his Kansas City suburb to Tuscaloosa. His visits to campus quickly changed his mind.

"The first time I visited Tuscaloosa for Alabama's camp, it was different than I expected. I'm from a big city and I really thought Alabama wouldn't have anything to offer me. I thought I'd get bored and wouldn't have enough to do. Once I got on campus, I realized that wasn't true. It's a great campus and a great town with so much to do and I'm already excited about getting down there."

But while his first visit to campus helped change Releford's perspective on Alabama, it was this weekend's official visit that sold him on the program.

"When I came down this last time, I got to see more of what life is like on campus. It was amazing to see the support the fans give to all the sports programs. Watching how crazy people get for the football team was exciting. The people there all seemed to know who I was, from the support staff to the students around campus. It was amazing. They were all telling me how important I was and how much they wanted me to come to Alabama."

"I got a chance to talk to Coach [Nick] Saban and I was really amazed by what he had to say. He told me a lot of the same things Coach Grant had said about Alabama and told me that basketball was one of his favorite sports. He said he wants to see Alabama be on top in every sport, not just football, and that he's willing to do whatever he can to help every team at Alabama."

"To hear a guy as important and powerful as Coach Saban taking the time to talk to a basketball recruit, it just let me know that everyone at Alabama is committed to taking this basketball program to the next level. As soon as I left Coach Saban's office, I committed to Coach Grant."

Ranked as the No. 24 point guard in the nation for the Class of 2010, Releford said he models his game after one of the NBA's top young point guards, New Orleans Hornets star Chris Paul.

"After I started to see Chris Paul play, I really started to work on things like the pick and roll in my game. I also really like to push it and create shots for my teammates. That's part of what appealed to me so much about Coach Grant. His system is fast-paced and all about pushing the ball down the floor and keeping the defense on its heels."

Now that the recruiting process is behind him, Releford plans on focusing all his efforts on getting himself ready both physically and academically to enroll at Alabama next summer and start making an immediate impact on the floor.

"I'm going to spend the rest of my senior year working out, trying to win a state championship with my team and doing everything I can to get cleared to play at Alabama. Right now, my grades are in good shape and I'm studying up for the ACT. I can't wait to get to Tuscaloosa and try and help Alabama get to the next level."

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