John Petty Jr. did not digest the magnitude of his recognition till the day in 2017 when he led Mae Jemison Excessive College in Huntsville, Alabama, to a 5A state championship.

After the title sport, the five-star recruit and Alabama commit informed his head coach, Jack Doss, he needed to search out his household within the parking zone. However Doss suggested the reserved participant and eventual chief for No. 11 Alabama (vs. Georgia, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, SEC Community) to attend.

“My coach stated, ‘Maintain on, give it a minute. You do not need to go on the market but,'” Petty recalled. “I stated, ‘What is going on on?’ He stated, ‘The entire gymnasium is ready on you. You will not like that.’ I went on the market and there have been so many individuals. Can I take an image? Can I get an autograph? I did not get to my household till an hour later. I could not even discover them. I ought to have listened to him.”

Scenes similar to that may have persuaded Petty — a part of a listing of five-star expertise from the 2017 class that features future Atlanta Hawks lottery decide Trae Young and Phoenix Suns star Deandre Ayton — that faculty basketball could be a fast springboard to NBA stardom. As an alternative, he is one among 5 five-stars from his class who’re nonetheless contributing on the NCAA Division I degree in 2020-21, together with Florida State’s M.J. Walker, TCU’s Chuck O’Bannon Jr., Louisville’s Malik Williams and Washington’s Quade Green.

One-and-done did not occur for Petty, who’s now a 6-foot-5 senior guard averaging 13.four PPG and connecting on 39% of his 3-point makes an attempt on a staff that would win the SEC and make a run within the NCAA event. Petty stated he believes he made the fitting alternative to remain in class. The daddy of two will quickly get his diploma, and his NBA dream stays intact — he is 59th in ESPN’s newest mock draft. He stated he has stopped second-guessing himself and ignored the stress prime recruits typically face to enter the draft after a yr or two of school basketball.

“After my freshman yr, I simply felt like I did not produce sufficient or present sufficient to indicate them I may play on the subsequent degree,” Petty stated. “With me, it is all about getting higher, regardless of how lengthy it takes, regardless of how lengthy you keep in faculty. That by no means actually bothered me. I all the time heard, ‘It’s best to go to the draft.’ Nevertheless it was all the time my choice. I simply needed to get higher and higher yearly.”



John Petty Jr. helps get Alabama off to a robust begin in opposition to LSU by making his first seven pictures from past the arc.

His journey additionally showcases the range inside faculty basketball: Even in a one-and-done local weather, every participant’s path is exclusive. Petty’s former Alabama teammate Collin Sexton, who parlayed a single season at Alabama into an NBA profession with the Cleveland Cavaliers, stated he has reminded Petty of the payoff he has earned.

“He is changed into a employee,” Sexton informed ESPN. “Everyone knows he ought to have been gone. I am very impressed by him. And I be sure that I encourage him. Individuals are out right here noticing.”

That is the identical recommendation Walker, who’s averaging 13.7 PPG and connecting on 45% of his 3-point makes an attempt at Florida State, acquired from his household at any time when he would query his path as a younger participant. Walker stated he wanted these rising pains he felt over the previous 4 years taking part in underneath Leonard Hamilton.

“You are coping with the skin noise,” Walker stated about life as a freshman with five-star standing. “Associates are telling you to go to the league. However I actually would not need it every other means. I really feel like I will be prepared when it is time for me to listen to my identify referred to as.”



Florida State guard M.J. Walker dunks throughout a defender after which proceeds to step over him.

Throughout his freshman season, Walker’s pleasure about serving to Florida State advance to the Elite Eight was muted by sudden fatigue. All through most of his first yr on campus, the midnight runs to the pizza joint on the primary ground of his condo constructing by no means appeared to have an effect on him. Late within the season, nonetheless, he was sluggish. He performed simply eight minutes in his staff’s 58-54 loss to Michigan within the 2018 Elite Eight. “That undoubtedly humbled me,” he stated. “I felt burnt out on the finish of the season.”

As we speak, he carries a jug of water in all places he goes on campus. And when Florida State needed to pause staff actions this season due to COVID-19 protocols, Walker led his teammates in wind sprints within the parking zone subsequent to the observe facility. He additionally retains Scottie Barnes, a projected first-round decide on this summer season’s NBA draft, near him, whispering the knowledge he is attained all through his time at Florida State.

Walker, the participant who was all the time a couple of minutes late 4 years in the past, cherishes punctuality now. He stated he nonetheless goals of taking part in within the NBA and he likes to see his mates excel on the subsequent degree. However his expertise, the diploma he’ll convey dwelling to his mother and father and the postseason success he believes Florida State can obtain in Indianapolis, have validated his choice.

“You type of query when it should be your flip,” he stated. “I really feel like I battled that a part of my mindset after I was younger. I really feel like I am taking part in at peace proper now.”

Williams can relate. He laughs concerning the adjustments he has undergone throughout his time at Louisville. He is the “outdated” man within the locker room, the one participant remaining from his recruiting class. This season, he has been sidelined with a foot harm, the second vital foot harm of his profession, however he is assured he might help a superb Louisville staff end sturdy.



Malik Williams throws down a posterizing dunk on the finish of the second half, propelling Louisville to the 79-73 win vs. Duke.

Williams stated some individuals urged him to make a fast leap to the NBA throughout his freshman season. However that wasn’t his mission. He stated he all the time reminded himself to make the perfect selections for his future. Whereas he admits he did not come to Louisville with a love for teachers, he is on schedule to graduate with a level.

“On the finish of the day, once you make it, you need to keep there,” Williams stated. “So that you simply need to be as prepared as potential. I believe that faculty is underrated in the way it helps you develop and prepare for that sport. From highschool to varsity, there’s a leap there. And the professionals might be a complete completely different sport up there. However I really feel like my freshman yr of school versus me now, I am two completely different individuals, so far as the sport of basketball and maturity-wise.”

Inexperienced was a five-star recruit at Kentucky earlier than transferring to Washington, the place he is averaging 15.four PPG. Typically, he thinks about what he’d say to that younger man who first stepped onto Kentucky’s campus.

“I might inform him to not fear concerning the stress and to do what Coach [John] Calipari says,” Inexperienced stated. “I might be a sponge.”

Petty additionally admits he did not have the dedication early in his profession that drives him now. After a nasty sport throughout his freshman season, he’d surprise how NBA scouts within the constructing had evaluated him. It took time to get that thought out of his head so he may take heed to his mom, who he says all the time informed him God had a plan for his life.

Like Inexperienced, Petty stopped worrying concerning the affect each efficiency might need on his draft inventory and simply centered on his development. This yr, he is made 69% of his pictures on the rim, an 11% improve from final season, per He is evaluated by Synergy Sports activities information as “superb” on protection, holding opposing gamers to a 33.3% clip in one-on-one conditions. He is additionally important to Alabama’s standing because the No. 2 staff in KenPom’s adjusted defensive effectivity rankings.>



Alabama’s Jaden Shackelford misses a 3-pointer, however John Petty Jr. is there for a putback dunk.

Now, the five-star-turned-veteran-standout is able to lead Alabama towards what could be its first Ultimate 4 look in class historical past.

“I all the time look again in any respect the adversity and simply the way it formed me and the way it molded me,” Petty stated. “All of the instances I used to be down, considering to myself, ‘Did I make the fitting choice? Did I do that proper? Did I do this proper?’ And simply being down on myself. I am lastly out of that. I did make the fitting choice. I am on some of the particular groups that has ever performed something at Alabama. This staff goes to go down in historical past and the blokes that I am taking part in with … they’re my brothers.”

At any time when Petty and Sexton speak, they mirror on their lone season collectively. Additionally they focus on their respective paths. It is clear they’re each proud of the selections they made.

“All people’s path is gonna be completely different,” Sexton stated. “Nobody’s path goes to be the identical. Some could keep in faculty extra years to get to the place they are going. I attempt to inform individuals, do not attempt to mannequin their path off another person’s success.”


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