Reggie King leads Alabama basketball's all-time starting 5
Editor’s note: SDS is selecting an all-time starting 5 for every SEC team, all part of our expanded March Madness coverage.
Tuscaloosa, Alabama makes a serious case as the capital of college football, but the basketball players at the University of Alabama have a proud history of their own. With 7 SEC regular season titles, 6 SEC Tournament titles and 20 NCAA Tournament appearances (including a vacated one), Alabama can stack up with most teams.
This “team” is a little different, however, as it’s composed of players across all generations. College accolades matter, but it’s all about the best players period, with the edge going to those who stayed longer than one year (sorry, Collin Sexton) or who had more NBA success (sorry, Robert Horry).
So let’s get started.
PG: Trevor Releford (2011-14)
Because of the slightly disappointing nature of his teams, it might be easy to forget how great Releford really was. No. 4 on Alabama’s all-time scoring list (1,873 points) because of his four strong years of play, Releford averaged 18.5 points as a senior.
Releford could score from anywhere, and he was complete enough to beat his man on both ends of the floor. The 6-0 point guard could fit on nearly any team, thanks to his playmaking, shooting, and ball handling acumen.
The obvious counter to Releford is Jack Kubiszyn, a worthy candidate who played from 1955-58. Though he has the two highest scoring seasons in Bama history, he was 5-11 and had a career shooting percentage of 37 percent. He needed nearly twice as many shots (21.6 vs. 12.2) to average six more points per game in his best season than Releford did.
SG: James Robinson
James Robinson is one of the most complete scoring guards in Alabama history, as he averaged 18.9 points per game during his three-year career in Tuscaloosa. His freshman season in 1990-91 was his most well-rounded, as he led the team in scoring with 16.8 points per game, and hit 41.8 percent of his 3s, as well as hitting a career-best 47 percent of his shots. That was one of the most successful teams in Alabama history, earning a No. 4 seed and advancing to the Sweet 16 behind Robinson’s strong play.
Though Robinson’s NBA career was largely forgettable, he would bring an edge to Alabama’s all-time team at the guard position and would fit great next to Releford, who is a similar type of player, giving the team a bevy of offensive options. Robinson was also an impressive rebounder for his 6-2 size, as he averaged 4.1 boards a game during his career.
SF: Wendell Hudson
One of Alabama’s four SEC Player of the Year Award winners, Wendell Hudson would do just as well today as he did during his electric 1972-73 campaign. The 6-6 forward was a force inside, scoring 20.7 points on 56.7 percent from the floor, and also grabbed 12.1 rebounds per game.
Hudson never played on a team that made the NCAA Tournament, but if we’re counting factors outside of on-court performance, being Alabama’s first African American scholarship athlete is a feat in itself.
Since we’re going small on the guards thus far, an enforcer inside at the pivot spot would be smart for the all-time Bama team. Hudson was strong, athletic, and tough, giving this Alabama team a three-headed monster of rebounding prowess.
PF: Reggie King
Reggie King is probably Bama’s GOAT, and he is pretty much the only spot on this list that is guaranteed. Every player thus far has had one great season, but King had two. He’s Alabama’s only two-time SEC Player of the Year, and his two seasons from 1978-79 are among Bama’s best all-time. It truly was “pick your poison” with King, as in 1978, he averaged 21.2 points and 13.3 rebounds. The next season, he had his best scoring mark at 22.6.
King is Alabama’s all-time leading scorer with 2,168 points and the only one in program history to crack the SEC’s top 10.
Whichever King season you pick, he would be a natural selection to Alabama’s all-time team, and you’d pretty much be committing to playing physical, old school ball when pairing him with Hudson, who was a slightly downgraded version of the same kind of player.
C: Leon Douglas
This is another spot where there could be some debate, as Alabama has a proud tradition of good bigs. Really, it boils down to Leon Douglas or Jerry Harper, who is kind of like the big version of Jack Kubiszyn from earlier. Harper has absurd numbers, and basically every rebounding record in Alabama history, but his 6-8 size and era (the 1950s) make it hard to imagine him staying with a player like Shaquille O’Neal or Joakim Noah.
Douglas had a little more size at 6-10 and 230 pounds, and he was a second-team All-American in 1974-75. That year, his junior campaign, was unquestionably the best version of Douglas, as he averaged career highs in points (20.7), rebounds (13.1), field goal percentage (55 percent) and free throw percentage (62 percent. When the NCAA started officially counting blocks in the next season, he averaged 2.8, so we can only assume he was about there in a season where he was grabbing more boards.
Douglas would be a perfect anchor in this Tom Thibodeau-esque team, which would focus on defense and rebounding misses. With the length and athleticism of Douglas, King, and Hudson at the 3-5 spots, nearly any team would have trouble scoring against the all-time Bama team.