Projecting an All-Saban basketball team for Alabama football

Nick Saban on the sidelines making calls versus Texas A&M
Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr/The Tuscaloosa News via USA TODAY Sports

Alabama men’s basketball is in the NCAA Tournament in its second year under Nate Oats.

It will battle 15th-seeded Iona on Saturday at Indianapolis, as people are excited to see what the Crimson Tide can do.

RELATED: Alabama Football 2021 Spring Preview: OL Evan Neal

In honor of the program’s success, yours truly of Touchdown Alabama Magazine has crafted an All-Saban basketball team of football players that were renowned stars on the hardwood in high school.

The All-Saban team will consist of a first and second-team selection. Afterward, there will be a list of players that competed in basketball despite not being household names.

First-Team All-Saban

PG: Henry Ruggs III

SG: DeVonta Smith

SF: Reggie Ragland

PF: Julio Jones

C: Michael Williams

Summary: Henry Ruggs III did not play football until his junior and senior seasons at Robert E. Lee High School in Montgomery, Ala. Basketball was his first love, and his 42″ vertical at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine showed it.

He was a ferocious dunker who could also pass, shoot and defend at a high level. Nick Saban loves playing with shooters on his team, but he also enjoys seeing guys that can create off the dribble. Ruggs supplied both in high school, and it was those skills that translated into him becoming a sought-after recruit in football. The 5-foot-11, 188-pounder has speed, quickness, and vision as a player. These traits helped him see the floor as a point guard and attack the ball as a wide receiver on the football field.

DeVonta Smith can run the point; however, he fits more as a shooting guard.

Smith was a major basketball star at Amite (La.) High School. He brought the ability to shoot, pass, defend, and be explosive, but Smith was also someone that could get a bucket when the team needed it. His ability to isolate an opponent’s best defender and attack one-on-one situations was his specialty. He did the same thing for the Crimson Tide at wide receiver.

As a true freshman, he attacked one-on-one situations versus Mississippi State and Georgia (CFP National Championship) for game-winning touchdown receptions. Last season, he schooled the best defensive backs in college football — en route to 117 catches for 1,856 receiving yards and 23 scores.

Smith’s savvy in basketball led to him winning the Heisman Memorial Trophy on the gridiron.

Julio Jones put Alabama football on the map in recruiting, but Foley (Ala.) High School witnessed an animal on the basketball court. At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Jones would make a perfect power forward.

He has the size to post up defenders while possessing the quickness and handles to make explosive dunks.

According to DeMarcus Cousins, the center for the Houston Rockets said Jones dunked on one of his teammates in high school. Cousins, a native of Mobile, Ala., played at LeFlore Magnet High School. Cousins said Jones’ dunk was so crazy that fans stormed the court, and it took a while for the game to restart.

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His 42″ vertical and 4.39-40 speed made him unstoppable for the Tide in football, especially in his junior season. He totaled 78 receptions for 1,133 yards and seven touchdowns in 2010.

Reggie Ragland was an All-American linebacker in football, but he was also a state champion in basketball.

He guided Bob Jones High School to its only Class 6A state championship in 2010 as a sophomore.

Ragland shared the floor with former Alabama men’s basketball star, Levi Randolph, but the small forward was a leadership piece. He was a stout defender who could also slash inside and attack the paint on offense.

Ragland was known for his rebounding abilities and quickness.

RELATED: Former Alabama linebacker, Reggie Ragland headed to New York Giants on a one-year deal

Michael Williams was a three-time BCS National Champion (2009, 2011-12) in football, but Russ Wallace coached a dominant force at Pickens County High School on the hardwood. Williams controlled the paint for the Tornadoes as he helped the school win four area championships (2004, 2005-07), before coming to Alabama in its 2008 signing class.

Coach Wallace was one of my professors at UA and he constantly talked about the dominance Williams had on the floor. He was a player that deflected passes, blocked shots, snatched rebounds, and scored when needed. His soft hands as a rebounder led to him catching four touchdowns at tight end in 2012 and seven for his career. Williams was also a two-time SEC champion in the 2009 and 2012 seasons.

Second-Team All-Saban

PG: Jaylen Waddle

SG: C.J. Mosley

SF: Derrick Henry

PF: Rolando McClain

C: A’Shawn Robinson

Notable players that competed in basketball: Amari Cooper, Robert Foster, Ha’Ha Clinton-Dix, and Nico Johnson

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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