Trevor Releford’s standout career at Alabama ended Thursday with a 68-56 loss against LSU in the second round of the SEC Tournament at the Georgia Dome.
Still, it almost certainly wasn’t Releford’s final appearance at the SEC tourney.
More than a decade from now, when his professional career is finished, Releford seems like a shoo-in to be honored as an SEC Legend at halftime of a future Crimson Tide conference tourney game.
“I hope I left my footprint on the program,” said Releford, a Bishop Miege grad from Kansas City. “That’s what I wanted to do from day one. I hate that it ended this way, but this has been the best four years of my life and I don’t have any regrets about it.”
The Crimson Tide had reached the postseason in Releford’s first three seasons, including an NCAA berth in 2012, but there will be no postseason after a 13-19 campaign.
“Next year, I’ve got all the confidence in the world these guys are going to bounce back,” Releford said. “Coach is going to get them where they need to be and, the same struggles we had this year, I don’t think they’ll occur next year.”
If that happens, Alabama coach Anthony Grant said Releford will deserve some credit.
“I’m appreciative of his commitment, his work ethic and his dedication to the program,” Grant said. “I think that he’s done a good job in terms of instilling an understanding of how to compete in our guys. Now, we have got to be able to build off of the foundation he has laid, so to speak, and that next step as a program.”
Releford is the first player in Tide history with 1,000 points, 300 assists and 200 steals in his career and only the seventh to top 1,800 points.
He will graduate as the fourth-leading scorer in Alabama history with 1,873 points. He passed Buck Johnson (1983-86) with 11 points Friday in his final game.
“We’ll miss him greatly,” Grant said. “I told him after the game I’m just really proud of the way he’s, first of all, walked in as a freshman and had a lot on his shoulders from day one. But just the growth he’s made, not only as a player but as a person.”
Releford was first-team all-SEC as a junior and senior. He also made the all-SEC freshman team and was a second-team all-conference selection as a sophomore.
He is only the third player Alabama history to earn postseason all-conference honors all four years, joining Jerry Harper (1953-56) and Jermareo Davidson (2004-07).
“I’m very proud of myself, because coming in here I didn’t think I’d be able to accomplish some of these things with my size and everything like that,” Releford said.
Releford led the Tide in scoring (18.5) and finished his career with 33 consecutive double-figure scoring games and 26 straight games with at least one three-pointer.
He racked up 12 20-point games as a senior, including a season-high 34 at UCLA.
Releford also graduates as Alabama’s all-time leader in steals (263) and led the SEC in steals this season (2.2).
He finished the regular season ranked fifth in the SEC in scoring (18.8), fifth in field-goal percentage (50.5) and fourth in three-point shooting (39.7). He led Alabama in assists with 97 in 31 games.
Asked what he’ll remember most about his time in Tuscaloosa, Releford said, “Definitely, it’s just leaving my footprints on the programs. I’ve been looking on Twitter and just all the people coming up to me — to know that I left that kind of impression on people is big.”