Alabama’s top incoming prospect fails to qualify to play for the Tide

Avery Johnson had some really good news and some not-so-really-good news this week. (USATSI)

The best hope for Alabama in its first season under new coach Avery Johnson is no more.

The Crimson Tide’s going to have an interesting and challenging 2015-16, and now we know the journey will commence without four-star 2015 prospect Kobie Eubanks, who was not cleared in time for the start of the academic year. As such, he will not play hoops in Tuscaloosa. Eubanks, who was the best incoming freshman Alabama had, did not get the go-ahead from the NCAA after it reviewed his transcripts from Delray Beach, Fla.’s Elev8 Sports Institute in addition to his previous marks at prior stops in high school.

More to the point: The NCAA is still poring over and deliberating his case, as it is with a lot of student-athletes, and time ran out.

“We are disappointed for Kobie and his family,” Johnson said in a written statement. “Unfortunately, Kobie wasn’t cleared by the NCAA and we couldn’t get him admitted to the University of Alabama. He has a bright future and we wish him well.”

Eubanks originally was a Baylor commitment, then backed off that last November because initial issues with his transcripts prompted a reclassification from the class of 2014 to the class of 2015. In mid-June Eubanks pledged to Bama under its new, Johnson-led regime.

Prior to playing at Elev8, Eubanks was a student at Our Savior New American School, which is based in Long Island, N.Y. A fellow 2015 prospect, Kansas five-star big man Cheick Diallo, also attended the school. Diallo has yet to be cleared by the NCAA to play at KU. Eubanks’ time at American Heritage High School, in Plantation, Fla., has also been a big factor in precluding the prospect from gaining eligibility.

It’s a blow to Alabama, which had huge news earlier in the week. Johnson landed one of the biggest recruiting gets to the program in a decade by signing a five-star shooting guard, 2016 prospect Terrence Ferguson. That’s a bright look to the future, but for the upcoming season, growing pains appear inevitable for a basketball program going through a renewal.

Eubanks believes he’ll get the green light from the NCAA … eventually. Just a matter of when — and then which program wants to take him on/adjust its roster this late to the game. The fall semester has already started at some campuses, and most others will have students in classes in the next two weeks.

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