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April 26, 2010TUSCALOOSA _ On the day that the University of Alabama men's basketball team announced the addition of two players to the program, it also lost one as forward Justin Knox has decided to transfer.
Knox, a Tuscaloosa native who attended Central High School, was released from his scholarship. On pace to graduate this spring, he would be eligible to play at another Division I school next season.
"My three years at Alabama have been a great experience," Knox said in a statement Monday. "I thank Coach Grant and my teammates for everything they have done for me, but feel at this time it is in my best interest to continue my academic and athletic career elsewhere."
Although he played in all 32 games last season with 17 starts, and averaged 6.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 19.8 minutes, Knox is looking for more playing time.
Grant was surprised and disappointed by the decision.
"I really enjoyed coaching Justin," Grant said. "I think that he is a quality young man and an integral part of our program to this point. At the same time, I think that it is a decision that he reached along with his family. I think he feels that he wants an opportunity, with this being his senior year, to be a bigger part of a program where he can do some things that put himself in a position to play at the next level."
Meanwhile, Grant announced the additions of guard Kendall Durant and power forward Jason Carter, who join guard Trevor Releford and swing player Charles Hankerson, Jr. from the early signing period in November.
Both could have an immediate impact, especially considering the lack of post players even with Knox.
"What excites me is that both Kendall and Jason are high-character individuals that come from great families," Grant said. "They have the character, values and work ethic that we want as the foundation of our program. They're committed to the team and to winning."
Durant (6-foot-3, 185 pounds) spent the past two seasons at Weatherford Community College in Texas, where he averaged 16 points this past season. He's rated a three-star prospect by rivals.com.
"Kendall is a young man we've known for three years," Grant said. "We feel like he is a great addition to our backcourt and adds a level of skill and athleticism as a combo-guard. He possesses the ability to stretch defenses from beyond the arc and a threat with his ability to create off the dribble."
Carter is originally from New Orleans, but displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Ranked the No. 107 recruit nationally by rivals.com, as a senior he averaged 14.6 points and 10.0 rebounds in leading Christian Life Center Academy in Humble, Tex., to a 30-1 record.
"Jason brings great size, skill and a level of physicality and toughness to the frontcourt," Grant said. "His ability as an inside-out player will be a very good addition to our team."
Finally, the coaching staff will have a new look next season with director of operations Tony Pujol switching roles with assistant coach Antoine Pettway.
"This is a decision that I reached a little while ago and I think that it is in the best interest of our program and also each individual," Grant said. "Antoine's 27 years old and was a great player here and I think he's done a great job for us. There are some scenarios that I think he needs to continue to grow in on and off the floor in terms of his coaching. I think he realizes that and realizes that this is an opportunity to grow in some areas and to learn more aspects of what it takes at this level. He has aspirations to be a head coach one day, and I think my responsibility is to make sure that he is growing the way he needs to and make sure the team has what it needs as well.
"On the other end, Tony Pujol was a guy who was with me at VCU, on the floor. Did everything in regards to the recruiting and the coaching and I have a comfort level that he will add something to our staff here. I feel blessed that we had someone in house that will fulfill the needs we have."