By LARRY VAUGHT
NASHVILLE — Given an opportunity to explain why a top recruit should come to his program instead of a more nationally known program, Alabama coach Avery Johnson was ready with his best sales pitch at the SEC Media Day here.
Of course, Alabama is battling Kentucky for five-star shooting guard John Petty of Huntsville, Ala., who will make an official visit to UK Oct. 28.
“We want to try to keep those kids in our state and we want Alabama to be a destination for those kids and not necessarily leave out of state and go to the other programs and be a part of championships other places,” Johnson, a former NBA player and coach, said.
Former Cats Eric Bledsoe and DeMarcus Cousins also were from Alabama and now are both in the NBA.
“We’ve built some great relationships with our high school coaches. We just feel it’s a relationship-driven business,” Johnson said.
Johnson doesn’t try to talk about other schools with recruits.
“We just talk about Alabama. I talk about my resume,” Johnson said. “If it’s about NBA, I have a little bit of an idea what that’s all about.”
Kentucky and coach John Calipari have become known for one-and-done players who succeed in the NBA. Johnson wants the recruiting decision to be about more than just the NBA.
“I’m all for kids graduating. We have a lot of first-generation graduates that are going to graduate from Alabama. So I’m pro-education also,” Johnson said. “But we tell them, ‘You can come to Alabama and be a part of something different. You can be the first to help lead us to the Final Four.’ So that’s our sell.”