Nate Oats and Co. received somewhat surprising news late Monday night as starting center Charles Bediako announced his final intentions to leave college in pursuit of professional basketball.

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He announced that he had entered the NBA Draft and hired an agent on April 1st in an Instagram post, but left the possibility of returning to Alabama open. Since he signed with an NBA/NCAA certified agent, he retained full eligibility, but late yesterday he finally put the talk of returning to rest.

Many figures around the sport figured Bediako would most likely return for another season in Tuscaloosa, similar to guards Mark Sears and Jahvon Quinerly, who also tested the draft waters. Noah Clowney and Brandon Miller were rightfully expected to stay in the draft, but Bediako joining them comes as at least a little bit of a surprise.

The 7-footer made huge strides in his game throughout the season, becoming an anchor on one of the best defenses in the country. Despite his increasingly impressive play, he was only projected as a fringe late second round pick, if not undrafted. His offensive production sometimes left a little to be desired, but "Angry Chuck" greatly improved his touch around the basket from freshman to sophomore year.

Perhaps Bediako and his team see him as a Mitchell Robinson type prospect. Taken late in the 2018 draft by the Knicks as a developmental pick, Robinson was coached up and received increasing minutes as he grew. That pick paid off, as Robinson has evolved into one of the top shot blockers and offensive rebounders in the NBA just a few years into his career. Bediako, a very coveted prospect coming out of high school, could certainly entice a team to take a chance on him in the second round in a similar way.

With this departure, Nate Oats has yet another role to fill on his basketball team. Nick Pringle will figure to play a much increased role, but most of the Tide's other forwards are incoming freshmen. The surprise of losing Bediako is yet another departure from a historic team. He joins Brandon Miller, Noah Clowney, Noah Gurley, Nimari Burnett, Dom Welch, Jaden Bradley, as well as assistant coaches Antoine Pettway, Bryan Hodgson, and Charlie Henry as departing pieces of the program.

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