Tuesday, November 16, 2004
TUSCALOOSA – Mark Gottfried collected a quartet of sought-after autographs as four players have signed National Letters of Intent to go to school and play basketball at the University of Alabama.
“First of all I’m excited about our class because we signed four quality students who are interested in graduating as well as four quality players who I think will be great additions to our basketball programs,” said Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried who is 14 of 14 in graduating his last four senior classes at Alabama and will graduate four more players from this year’s team by May 2005.
Among the players Alabama signed was 6-foot-9, 250 pound power forward Richard Hendrix of Athens. The Athens High senior is already his school’s all-time leader in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots and games started. Going into his final season, he has already scored 2,078 career points, 1,289 career rebounds, has 467 blocked shots and 100 consecutive starts. He has nine career triple doubles in points, rebounds and blocks. He averaged 22.1 points, 13.7 rebounds and 6.1 blocked shots in 204. Hendrix, a two-time all-state selection, was named a Parade All-American, 3rd Team as a junior in 2004 and is a two-time Gold Medalist at the USA Olympic Youth Development Festival. USA Today placed him at the top of its list of 2005 national high school prospects. Coached by his father, Vernard Hendrix, Richard Hendrix led Athens High to a 33-3 record in 2004 and the 5A state championship game final. He is a standout in the classroom as well as a member of the National Honor Society and has a 3.6 grade point average.
“Richard Hendrix is obviously a very well thought of player nationally,” said Gottfried. “He’s as good of a person as he is a player. He’s a big player who’s got great hands. He’s versatile. He can score around the basket and away from the basket. He’s just a very talented young man.”
Signing on with the Crimson Tide as well is 6-foot-10, 220 pound center Yamene Coleman of Wilcox Central, the same school that produced 2004 Tide senior Antoine Pettway. Coleman averaged 14 points and 12 rebounds a game as a junior in 2004. Coleman, a consensus top 100 national player, will vie for “Mr. Basketball” state player of the year. He helped lead Wilcox Central to the 2003 state championship title as a sophomore and to the 2004 state Final Four.
“I’m excited about Yamene Coleman,” said Gottfried. “I think Yamene is a player who is going to develop into a great player at Alabama. He comes in with great size and a tremendous work ethic. He’s a center who I think will blossom in our program.”
A consensus No. 1 ranked combo guard in the nation, Ray George, a 6-foot-2 guard from Atlanta’s Georgia Perimeter Community College has signed to play at Alabama. George, who is from Decatur, Ga., averaged 21 points and 10 assists last season. Georgia Perimeter, led by George, made its fourth appearance at nationals last season and is currently ranked No. 15 in the nation. Picked to repeat this season as the regional champs, Georgia Perimeter won the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association’s Region 17 championship and District 10 championship in 2004. Street & Smith’s has named him a JUCO preseason All-American, 1st team.
“I think Ray George is going to be a tremendously exciting player,” said Gottfried. “He’s one of the most athletic combo guards in the nation. I like the fact that he led his team to Hutchinson, Kansas, to the finals last year as a freshman. He’s a winner and he’s a great athlete who has great basketball skills.”
From Palm Beach, Fla., Alabama has signed a 2005 Mr. Basketball candidate, 6-foot-6, 205 pound forward Alonzo Gee. Gee averaged 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists his junior season in 2004 at Dwyer High School. Dwyer won the 2004 Class 5A state championship, led by Gee who was all-state tournament. Gee was the MVP at the 2004 Adidas Showcase national tournament and made all-tournament at another prestigious national event in Las Vegas. He was all-state, honorable mention in 2004 as a junior.
“Alonzo Gee is a player we’re very excited about. When we evaluated the players across the country this past year, he moved to the top of the class as far as being a player who can shoot the ball from the perimeter and just as a great scorer. He will bring a lot to our team with his size and shooting ability.”