Alabama Basketball: Mitchell, Hankerson Jr. won’t return to team

Per the University of Alabama’s media relations, Alabama Basketball players Tony Mitchell and Charles Hankerson Jr. will not return to the team in 2012. According to head coach Anthony Grant, both players asked to be released, and both requests were granted by the University.

The fact that Tony Mitchell will not return next season comes as no real surprise after he was suspended in February, and then later in the month it was revealed that his suspension would remain for the rest of the season. There was obviously some hope that Mitchell would return to the Crimson Tide program for what would be his senior season, but I think a lot of fans, myself included, expected Mitchell’s time in Tuscaloosa to have come to an end.

Tony Mitchell along with Charles Hankerson Jr. were granted releases from their scholarships.

However, the announcement that Charles Hankerson Jr., who would have been coming into his junior season at the Capstone in 2012-13. Hankerson Jr.’s decision almost certainly hinges on getting more playing time at another school. Hankerson played only 11 minutes per game last season, averaging 3.6 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 0.6 assists per game while shooting only 36% from the field.

Hankerson is a Miami, Florida native, so I wonder if he has interest in going back home to play for the Hurricanes. As for Mitchell, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go ahead and put his name in the NBA Draft. He won’t be drafted, but he could find himself on a roster, but would more than likely end up in the D-League if anything. Another year in Tuscaloosa would have greatly helped Mitchell’s pro prospects.

With the departure of JaMychal Green, Alabama now has three scholarships open for this recruiting period heading into next season. While they have three available, they really only have two after freshman guard Retin Obasohan from Belgium redshirted last season. Obasohan will take up one of the scholarship spots, but that still leaves two open for Anthony Grant to bring in some help.

The big name the Tide is trying to attract is of course Porterville, Mississippi’s Devonta Pollard, who is a five star small forward prospect according to Rivals rates Pollard as the #9 ranked player in this recruiting class, and the 2nd best small forward. The Crimson Tide is among the finalists for Pollard’s services along with Georgetown, Missouri, and Texas.

Another name to keep an eye on for Alabama will be 6-foot-6 shooting guard DeVon Walker from Winter Haven, Florida. Walker is a three star prospect according to rivals, and they rate him as the 149th best player in this class. Walker has Alabama on a list that includes Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Kansas State, Miami (FL), and UCF.

If Alabama can snag both of these guys, it would go a long way in to solidifying next season’s roster. I’m sure there are some other targets Anthony Grant will certainly be getting in contact with if these two don’t pan out. It was looking like a pretty boring recruiting season for the Crimson Tide with JaMychal Green being the only player gone, but now with Mitchell and Hankerson Jr. out the door as well, Grant has some room on the roster to make a move.

Mitchell and Hankerson’s departure leaves Alabama in desperate need of forward depth, which makes the recruitment of Devonta Pollard all the more important.

I’m thankful for what both of these guys contributed to the program over the last few years, and I wish them nothing but the best wherever they end up.