With it came a definition to the suspension saga that’s gripped the program in the crucial final weeks of the season and left its two leading scorers in limbo. The verdict: Tony Mitchell is done for the year and JaMychal Green can resume practicing.
The separate suspensions originally termed “indefinite” have so far cost Mitchell four games and Green three. It was the third suspension in three seasons for Green and the first for Mitchell. The exact nature of the rules violations could not be confirmed
A mid-afternoon news release did not address Green’s availability for the Tide’s Thursday trip to Arkansas, though coach Anthony Grant spoke on the issue a few hours earlier.
Asked about the status of both troubled players on the weekly SEC media teleconference, Grant was brief.
“I don’t anticipate them being available for Thursday,” he said.
Grant said he was also in the process of setting up meetings with Green and Mitchell that he originally discussed last Friday. The official announcement came just after 3 p.m. Grant will not be available for further comment until this afternoon.
Alabama (17-9, 6-6 SEC) split the four games since Mitchell’s suspension was announced Feb. 6. The high-flying junior finishes the season with a 13.1-point scoring average.
His productivity, however, sagged in recent weeks. He averaged 8.3 points in his last six games including his only scoreless performance in three seasons.
November and December saw Mitchell’s peak. His average was still 15.3 points a game when the calendar turned with his season-high coming in the Tide’s best win. The 26 points Mitchell scored Nov. 18 against Wichita State (now ranked 19th) was the team high until Rodney Cooper scored 28 at LSU on Feb. 11.
It was that loss in Baton Rouge when the disciplinary issues hit another gear. Green, along with starters Andrew Steele and Trevor Releford, were sent home from LSU on the day of the game with indefinite suspensions.
Steele and Releford returned against Florida after one game away, but the Tide lost both.
And the once-certain NCAA tournament bid was stuck in the mud.
The potential return of Green could certainly help the résumé. The Montgomery product scores 14.1 points a game while grabbing 7.2 rebounds and adding a versatile interior presence.
A former McDonald’s All-American, Green played for the United States this summer in the World University Games.
His decision to return for a senior season further fueled the high expectations when coupled with the highly-ranked recruiting class. Before the suspension, Green missed three games with two separate injuries.
His season-high 22-point game at then-No. 2 Kentucky kept it close before falling 77-71 on Jan. 21.
The absence of Green (6-8) and Mitchell (6-6) meant expanded roles for a handful of inexperienced front-court players.
The two 7-footers, Carl Engstrom and Moussa Gueye, played important parts in Saturday’s 62-50 win over Tennessee.
“I think our guys have moved on and are just trying to get better with each practice and try to prepare the best we can for the opponent in front of us,” Grant said Monday morning.
Arkansas is next followed by Mississippi State at 5 p.m. Saturday in Coleman Coliseum. Grant said he’ll “make that decision here,” on availability for that game.
Bulldog coach Rick Stansbury was also preoccupied by tonight’s visit from No. 1 Kentucky, but spoke briefly about Alabama’s situation. He said Alabama might even be better because the suspensions sped the development of those who replaced those missing.
“Whoever they have or don’t have, they are a very good basketball team,” Stansbury said.
Michael Casagrande covers University of Alabama sports for The Star. Follow him on Twitter @UARollTide_Star