Freshmen shine during men’s basketball’s foreign tour sweep


Courtesy of UA Athletics

Alabama forward Brandon Miller (24) takes a jump shot in the Crimson Tide’s 89-77 victory over the Chinese National Team on August 12 in Paris, France.

Mathey Gibson, Staff Reporter

In 2017, Alabama head coach Avery Johnson inked a star-studded signing class of Collin Sexton, John Petty, Herb Jones, Alex Reese and Galin Smith.  

Sexton, an electrifying point guard and highest-ranked signee in Alabama basketball history (No. 5 nationally, per 247composite), would later be drafted No. 8 overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 NBA Draft.  

While Smith transferred to Maryland, Jones, Petty and Reese, in-state recruits, would stay all four years and cap off their respective Alabama careers with an SEC title sweep and Sweet 16 appearance in 2020-21 under the guidance of second-year head coach Nate Oats. 

Just over a year after their departure, Oats and his fourth-year staff are hoping their next class of freshmen can help recapture some of that rarified March Madness air.  

¡Saludos desde España! – Greetings from Spain!

All things considered, this may have been Brandon Miller, Noah Clowney, Jaden Bradley and Rylan Griffin’s tentative introduction to the college basketball world.  

To start the week, the Crimson Tide rolled into Barcelona and blasted Spain’s Select team by a score of 108-64.  

After a quick flight to Paris, the Crimson Tide powered through Lithuania’s National B team, 120-61.  

Just a day later, Alabama was charged with facing the Chinese National Team — ranked 30th in the world. The result? An impressive 89-77 victory. For comparison, in-state rival Auburn fell to 39th ranked Israel 95-86 on Monday afternoon.  

Miller, a 2022 McDonald’s All-American, continued his head turning summer by averaging 22.7 PPG over the course of three games — leading the Crimson Tide in each contest. The 6-foot-8, five-star forward signee looks to be a legitimate SEC Freshman of the Year candidate.  

Clowney, a 6-foot-10 forward and four-star signee out of Roebuck, South Carolina, has been the surprise of the summer — impressing with his athleticism and range while dropping 12 points, 11 points, and 13 points, respectively, on top of a 24-point performance at an Aug. 30th public scrimmage. 

Griffin, a 6-foot-5 guard and four-star signee hailing from Richardson, Texas, exploded for a 19-point performance vs. Spain Select on Monday. A wiry athlete with an aptitude for scoring, Griffin looks to make an immediate impact off the bench for the Crimson Tide. 

While Bradley was on a minutes restriction due to a prior foot surgery, the 6-foot-3 McDonald’s All-American five-star caught the eyes of many once again by flashing his steadiness and old-fashioned guard play — a familiar sight for those who have been around the program this summer.  

Expectations continue to rise, almost to an unfair degree, but as CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein would say, the buzz is palpable in Tuscaloosa, ladies and gentlemen.