Grant and his staff plan to take the Crimson Tide on a European trip with stops in Netherlands, Belgium and France -- specifically, Paris -- for a 10-day trip with practice time and matchups against European professional teams. Speaking with reporters Monday on the SEC's men's basketball summer teleconference, Grant said the team will leave Aug. 8 and return on Aug. 18 or 19. This will be Alabama’s first offseason trip of this nature since the team traveled to Canada in 2007.
“This should be a good opportunity for our guys to experience a different culture and have an opportunity to gel as a team and obviously get ready for the upcoming season,” Grant said.
Alabama's three 2013 signees -- freshmen Jimmie Taylor and Shannon Hale and junior college transfer Algie Key -- are eligible to make the trip. Alabama will be permitted to hold 10 practices while it is in Europe. Grant said the trip will give the coaches the chance to see various lineups. Grant and his 2008-09 Virginia Commonwealth team went on an offseason trip to the Bahamas.
“From a cultural standpoint, to give these kids an opportunity to experience a trip overseas, it may be the only time for some of these guys that they ever have an opportunity to do that,” Grant said. “It's a rewarding thing in terms of the experience. I think it's a great opportunity, something I think can help our team as we prepare for the upcoming season.”
Grant also addressed the issue of players transferring in college basketball. With guard Trevor Lacey and center Moussa Gueye deciding to transfer, the Tide will be without two veteran players in 2013. But Alabama isn’t the only school battling to keep players in its program. More than 450 players switched schools this offseason.
“I think it’s an alarming trend,” Grant said. “Certainly, I don’t think it’s something any coach would tell you it’s something that’s good for the game. There are a variety of issues that go into kids making the decision to leave a program. ...
"We’ve got to do something as a sport to try to limit that. Whether it’s more opportunities for (programs) to get to know (players) on the front end or (players) looking at their situations better on the front end before making decisions on what they’re going to do. I don’t know, but it certainly is an alarming number.”
Marq Burnett covers Alabama athletics for The Anniston Star. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @Marq_Burnett.