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Jordan Bruner Bringing No Nonsense Mentality to Tuscaloosa

Original Source: https://www.si.com/college/alabama/player-development/alabama-crimson-tide-basketball-yale-grad-transfer-jordan-bruner-bringing-no-nonsense-mentality-to-tuscaloosa

BamaCentral caught up with the coveted grad transfer to discuss his decision to join Alabama and his expectations for next season.

After the University of Alabama men’s basketball team lost to Vanderbilt at home on March 3, coach Nate Oats called for a change in the culture. 

“You look around here and you have to build a culture where this stuff is unacceptable,” Oats said after that 87-79 defeat. “And we do not have it there yet. We have more work to do.”

Four days later, the team would play its regular season finale at Missouri and lose, 60-59, in its worst offensive outing of the year. 

Before the cancellation of the SEC tournament, the hope was that the team could use its game against Tennessee and potentially, in the next round against Kentucky, as confidence boosters going into postseason play, likely in the NIT. 

With the COVID-19 outbreak, that never happened. But what the absence of organized basketball has done, is give Oats and his staff a head start on completing the work he mentioned after the game against the Commodores — roster overhaul. 

Fast forward a little over a month later, three Crimson Tide players are testing the NBA draft waters (Kira Lewis Jr., John Petty Jr., Herbert Jones) and the program has received four new verbal commits in the span of three weeks. 

First it was 2020 five-star guard Joshua Primo, then JUCO transfer Keon Ellis, 2020 three-star forward Darius Miles, and lastly, on Friday, highly touted Yale grad transfer Jordan Bruner announced he would be coming to Tuscaloosa for his last year of eligibility, putting the exclamation point on Alabama’s recent blazing hot streak on the recruiting trail. 

Bruner spoke with Bama Central following his decision. 

“The system was the main thing,” Bruner said. “But just the time Coach Oats took to explain the vision he has for what I can come in and, the things that he saw in terms of how I could fit and the things I can add to the team.”

Nearly averaging a double-double this past season (10.9 points and 9.2 rebounds) to go along with 3.8 assists a game, Bruner was a First Team All-Ivy selection. The 6-foot-9 forward helped lead the Bulldogs to a 23-7 record and an Ivy League championship. 

“It is really hard to guard me because I am a mismatch,” Bruner said. “So if you put a smaller guy on me, I can post up and if you put a bigger guy on me, I can drive by him. The biggest thing is my ability to pass and help other guys on the team get easier shots and create a little bit, while still being able to space the floor and knock down some shots.”

Within the first three hours of entering the transfer portal on March 18, Bruner heard from 25 schools. In total, 55 schools reached out to him in some capacity for his services. One of the first and most persistent coaches to call him was Oats. 

“I watched a lot of film and looked at all of the rosters,” Bruner said. “I tried to see what guys I would feel comfortable playing with and what coaches had done in the past. There was a lot of work put into it.”

Bruner was meticulous and took his time narrowing down his schools until he reached a final three of Baylor, Maryland, and Alabama.

“All three were schools that I could see myself at,” Bruner said. “Really early on in the process, I could see myself at Alabama and that is what kept them in it. But at the end of the day, I prayed about it and this is where I felt like I was suppose to end up.”

Ultimately, the fast-paced, blue-collar product that Oats put on the court in his first season at the Capstone that won Bruner over. But, like Oats told local media in a teleconference late last month, they both are not here to go 16-15. 

“There is no point when I step on the floor and expect to lose,” Bruner said. “Even when I was at Yale, and we were considered the underdog going into high major games, like I’m expecting to come in and win those games because I feel like I am the best player on the floor. I think I can do a lot more than I did at my previous school.”

The Columbia, S.C. native is the ‘old head’ in this recruiting class, which grad transfers are not factored into team rankings on different recruiting sites and the Crimson Tide already holds the 15th spot per 247Sports Composite. Bruner believes this could be a very special group. 

“The guys I am coming in here with are pretty talented,” Bruner said. “I think we could have made it to the Sweet 16 at Yale this year. But coming into a program where Coach Oats recruited a lot of talent, there is no reason to think we can not make it further than the Sweet 16.” 

Bruner has already been in contact with current Crimson Tide players, Jahvon Quinerly, Juwan Gary, and verbal commit, Primo. 

When doing his film study, Jones was one of the guys who jumped out to Bruner and he said if he does decide to return to school, he would love to help him out in anyway he can on the hardwood. 

“Herb is a dude that plays hard,” Bruner said. “He seems like a guy who do whatever he needs to do to win. He is a competitor and I love that about him. Before he got hurt, they were playing really well and beating a lot of teams.”

Bruner made his announcement on Instagram, mentioning that he has a goal of winning a national championship with Alabama. The mindset he is bringing to Tuscaloosa could very well be the missing piece to a program that has not gone further than the second round in the Big Dance since 2004.

“Those expectations are exactly what I said they are,” Bruner said. “I am going to come in and try to use my experience to hold guys accountable and try make sure that is the mindset of the whole team. We are to talented not to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.”