Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Releford ends final season at UA


When senior guard Trevor Releford chose to come to The University of Alabama, he turned down offers from then-Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl, then-Oklahoma basketball coach Jeff Capel and someone unusual – Bob Stoops, coach of the Oklahoma football team.

“Bob Stoops came up and watched him at basketball practice and said ‘I’ll sign him right now,’” Rick Zych, Releford’s high school basketball coach, said. “[Releford] knew he wasn’t going to play football, though. He said [football players] were too big.”

Releford has battled the impression that he’s too undersized, even for basketball, for much of his career. At 6 feet, Releford is the shortest player on Alabama’s already small team.

“Maybe, at the next level, I think what might hold him back is his size, a little bit,” Zych said. “But they can’t measure his heart.”

Despite his small stature, Releford has emerged as one of the all-time great players in Crimson Tide history, and Saturday will be his final game in a crimson jersey.

Releford will face Arkansas on Senior Day, Alabama’s final regular-season game. He said he has no regrets concerning his decision to play in Tuscaloosa.

(See also “Basketball team seeks to overcome Wildcats’ size“)

“I’m blessed to be in a position to even play at this level of basketball. That’s what I think about,” Releford said. “I know we’ve had a couple of losses, but I’m just grateful to play at The University of Alabama. I don’t have any regrets on this season.”

Still, Zych said Releford’s career has been frustrating for the player at times. Postseason hopes have not gone as expected, and this season, following the unexpected loss of three key players, Releford carries the load for a 12-18 team that has failed to meet expectations. Zych said he occasionally reminds Releford of the impact his play will have on the program.

“I told him, ‘You might be in their hall of fame,’” Zych said. “‘You’ll be one of their career-scoring leaders. Grant said you lead in steals. You made your mark at that program, that’s for sure.’”

When Releford finishes his career at the University, he will be the all-time school leader in steals. The senior guard could finish in the top 5 in scoring and free throws made, top 10 in shots made, field goal percentage and assists. He’ll be relevant in as many as a dozen statistical categories. By the time all is said and done, the Kansas City, Mo., native will have played more basketball games for The University of Alabama than any other player in the program’s 101 year history. While it remains to be seen exactly where he will finish, Releford has had a career that rates as one of the top in Alabama history, and a season that’s in contention for Southeastern Conference Player of the Year.

“Without question, he’s had a Player-of-the-Year-caliber year,” Grant said. “When you look at what’s been asked of him to do on our team night-in and night-out, and from a scouting standpoint, the emphasis that’s been on trying to contain and control him … At the end of the day, if you ask any coach in the league, they’ll tell you from the time he stepped on campus he’s gotten better as a player.”

(See also “Alabama men’s basketball team seeking shelter from storm“)

Releford is the SEC leader in steals and steals per game, and ranks in the top 5 for field goal percentage, three-point field goal percentage, points and points per game. Even more important than his on-court statistical greatness, however, has been Releford’s leadership ability in the locker room. Releford said, more than anything, that he appreciates the chance to be the leader for the Crimson Tide.

“Being a senior on the team, being a point guard, you always want to be the leader on floor and in the locker room,” Releford said. “I always wanted to be in that role, and I’m thankful for it, and I’m thankful for coach [Grant] believing in me.”

Grant said Releford’s leadership skills have blossomed along with his on-court skills.

“I think Trevor’s always been that leader on the court, in games,” Grant said. “But I think he’s really emerged and matured over the course of this season into that guy on a daily basis.”

But in the big picture, Releford has shown his leadership skills since the early days of his career, Zych said.

“You knew early his sophomore year he was gonna be a special player,” Zych said. “The biggest thing about him is he’s such a great competitor. [Releford] was always more of a spokesperson, a vocal leader. He was our leader from day one.”

Releford’s senior season, which has him averaging 18 points, three assists and two steals per game, has many wondering what his future holds. NBA front offices have scouted the player, and it remains to be seen if the guard will play in NBA or overseas like his brother Travis, a former guard for the Kansas Jayhawks. Releford’s two coaches, however, are more concerned with a different definition of success.

“I want to see him graduate. I want to see him make a living in basketball or out of basketball,” Zych said. “He’s great working with kids. He’s got a lot of people skills … I hope he can be a good father and a good mentor for some other young kids … A lot of people went out of their way to help him. I hope he can do that for some other kids.”

To Grant, Releford is prepared to take whatever chance he might be offered. He said they have worked on Releford’s ability to be prepared, mentally and physically, for the opportunity to play professional basketball.

“I think, if given an opportunity, he’s as good as any guard out there to make money playing the game,” Grant said. “Regardless, he’s gonna walk out of here with a degree and a maturity level where I think he’s ready to succeed, whether in the NBA, overseas or doing whatever it is his heart desires as he becomes a man and starts his own family.

“[Releford] has really grown. I’m really proud of him, and he’s gonna be successful in whatever life has planned for him.”

(See also “Men’s basketball team begins crucial stretch against Arkansas“)

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