Coast-to-coast combination guard Al Key of Barton Community College committed to the University of Alabama on Tuesday.
The dynamic 6-foot-4 Key, a two-time third-team National Junior College Athletic Association All-America selection, plans to sign at 11:30 this morning at Kirkman Activity Center to play for the Crimson Tide of the Southeast Conference.
Key, who led the Cougars in scoring, assists and steals in each of the past two seasons, chose Alabama over SEC foe Georgia, along with Texas Christian, out of the Big 12 Conference.
“The coaching staff, the program and the academics, at the end of the day, I felt like (Alabama) was the right fit for me,” Key said early Tuesday afternoon. “I’m very excited.
“I can’t wait to go in and work, and that’s what I’m going to do. I feel like I can help this team. I want to help our team get to the NCAA tournament and, hopefully, win a national title.”
Alabama, which finished 23-13 last season, including 12-7 in the SEC, under Tide head coach Anthony Grant, advanced to the second round of the National Invitation Tournament, falling to Maryland 58-57.
Key joins a stable of greyhounds, with ’Bama returning its entire backcourt from last season in Trevor Releford, Trevor Lacey and Rodney Cooper.
Releford, the younger brother of Travis Releford, who just used up his eligibility at Kansas this past March, led the Tide with a 14.9-point scoring average. Trevor Releford is a product of Bishop Miege High School in Roeland Park, meaning Key is the second player with Kansas ties in the ’Bama program.
“There were a ton of schools that tried to get in on him late,” Barton head coach Craig Fletchall said, “and Al didn’t let that influence him.
“From Al’s standpoint, and the numbers don’t lie, he’s the most consistent player I’ve had. Obviously, a two-time All-American, and better yet, just a humble kid. He always worked on his game, and never showed a bit of selfishness in two years.”
Key, a native of Decatur, Ga., averaged 17.6 points this past season. He finished No. 4 on Barton’s all-time list in scoring (1,214 points) and assists (315).