Tide Hoops Signs Three



TUSCALOOSA ?? Three players have signed National Letters of Intent to attend and play basketball at the University of Alabama.


Mark Gottfried and his coaching staff have signed Decatur’s Rico Pickett, a 6-foot-4, 175 pound point guard out of Decatur High School; Senario Hillman, a 6-foot-2, 175 pound shooting guard out of Wilkinson County High School in Irwinton, Ga.; and Tuscaloosa’s Justin Knox, a 6-foot-9, 205 pound power forward out of Central High School.


“All three of these young men are very good students academically,” said Gottfried whose team enters the 2006-07 season ranked No. 11 in the AP preseason rankings. “They are interested in graduating from college, which is something we like, and they all have terrific potential on the basketball floor.”


In September, Sports Illustrated ranked Hillman No. 42 and Picket No. 58 on its Hot 100 Seniors on its SI.com website. Other national recruiting services ratings had Picket No. 7 and Hillman No. 11 among shooting guards on Rivals.com and Picket No. 9 among point guards, Hillman No. 13 among shooting guards and Knox No. 25 among power forwards on Scout.com.


Pickett averaged 20 points, seven assists and six rebounds at Decatur High School. Decatur finished the 2006 season with a 20-10 record, advancing to the Northwest sub-regional.


“Rico is a player who we think can be an impact player at the guard position,” said Gottfried. “He’s a player that can play both the point guard and the off-guard, and we have recruited him primarily as a point guard. He’s a great athlete. He really sees the floor. He’s a terrific passer. And we think he’s got a chance to have a great future.”


Hillman averaged 21 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals a game as a junior at Wilkinson County, a team that finished 29-2 last season, advancing to the Final Four of the Class A in Georgia and a team that has produced 89 wins in the past three seasons. Hillman’s team finished second in the region championship last season, and he has been All-State for the past three consecutive seasons. Hillman was the Regional Player of the Year the past two seasons, 2005 and 2006. Going into this, his senior season, he has made 128 dunks in three seasons and has a 41-inch vertical jump. He was recently featured in RISE magazine in its story on the “Elite 24 Hoops Class” for 2006-07.


“Senario is an electrifying, very exciting player,” said Gottfried.  “He plays the game with a high level of intensity. He is also a great ball defender and can dominate a game from the guard position. He has a scorer’s mentality and will be a very fun player for our fans to watch over the course of his career.”


Knox averaged 12 points, six rebounds and five blocked shots a game at Central High as a junior in 2006.


“Justin is a local player, and we’re very excited about him signing,” said Gottfried. “He is just beginning to blossom as a basketball player. He’s 6-foot-9. He’s a great student in the classroom, and his best basketball is in front of him. He’s got a great touch from the foul line. He’s a shot blocker and can rebound really well. We just think his personality and character fit with our program.”