From banking shots to hitting the books

  Senior Ben Eblen, former Crimson Tide guard, finishes up homeowkr in Gorgas library Monday morning before heading to class. /CW | Margo Smith

It’s been a long while since Ben Eblen has had this much free time.

The former Alabama point guard is experiencing his first fall since he was in grade school that he hasn’t been getting ready for a basketball season. Eblen decided to forgo his senior year of Crimson Tide basketball in August.

“The last Thanksgiving I got to spend at home was probably in ninth grade, and the last year not getting ready for basketball was when I was five or six years old,” he said. “It’s definitely different. Of course I’m still excited to watch and just be a fan of the game itself. I’m excited for basketball season in general and it to be back on TV.”

He decided to leave the team so he could focus on his academics. Eblen plans to use this season as his redshirt year and finish his consumer science degree before spending his last year of eligibility in graduate school.

“Just where I was academically, I would have had to do some other things to take the right amount of courses this semester and stuff like that,” he said. “I’ve got a list of schools and some of the coaches have contacted me. So hopefully I get something worked out and it goes smoothly.”

He started talking with head coach Anthony Grant after last season’s NCAA Tournament loss to Creighton, and the two decided it was in Eblen’s best interests to take a year off.

“We appreciate everything Ben has brought to our program over the last three years and wish him the absolute best in his future endeavors,” Grant said.

But that doesn’t mean he won’t still be around a lot of the players in the program.

“Those are my best friends. My relationship with those guys is bigger than basketball so I’m definitely excited for their upcoming season and their future success,” he said. “I think they’ve got a great group of guys returning along with Devonta [Pollard]. It’s going to be a great year.”

Eblen spent much of his Alabama career backing up point guard Trevor Releford. He averaged just over seven minutes per game last season, but was a fan favorite off the court for his entertaining tweets and other antics.

He said his most memorable moment came during the 2010-11 season when Alabama was hosting then-No. 11 Kentucky. With Alabama leading 67-66, Eblen stole the ball from Brandon Knight and hit a free throw to seal the 68-66 victory.

“That was definitely a highlight,” Eblen said. “Just that whole run [in 2011] to the NIT and stuff like that. It was definitely a special team and a special memory.”

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