What Might Alabama Basketball Look Like This Coming Year?
The end of the 2022 season marked a period of change for Nate Oats and the Crimson Tide basketball team. JD Davison, Keon Ellis, Jaden Shackleford, Juwan Gary, James Rojas and others are all no longer on the team, having left for the NBA or other colleges.
Change can be a good thing however, and with highly touted recruits and transfers coming into the fold, the future is bright. But what exactly might the future look like?
Let's take a look at who might be filling the biggest roles on the Tide this season.
First off is guessing who will be in the starting lineup. This isn't an exact science, but given what Nate Oats has said this offseason, we have somewhat of an idea. Jahvon Quinerly is a returning star, and assuming his ACL recovery goes smoothly, he will be back at starting point guard around the beginning of SEC play. Given Oats' recent praise of two new players in particular, it seems like both could be slotted to start. Those players would be freshman phenom Brandon Miller and coveted transfer Mark Sears.
Playing Miller at the four and a more developed Charles Bediako at the five would give the Tide one of the most formidable front-courts in the country. Bediako should be slated to return at center, given his returning starter status. Miller might not start immediately due to the return of Noah Gurley, but with his recruiting pedigree and praise he's garnered from Oats, he figures to be as likely as any freshman Oats has had to get the starting nod at some point in the season.
Ohio transfer Mark Sears could face competition from St. Bonaventure transfer and Buffalo native Dom Welch for minutes, but at the moment Sears looks to be the starter between the two. Welch seems to figure in to getting a lot of minutes at the three for Oats, similar to Keon Ellis, but he'll have to contend with former 5-star Nimari Burnett coming off a season lost to injury.
All this being said, at the moment it seems like the lineup (when all are healthy) will be Quinerly, Sears, Burnett, Miller, and Bediako. Gurley, Welch, as well as freshmen Jaden Bradley and Noah Clowney should all receive plenty of minutes in rotation.
If JQ isn't ready to go through the first weeks of the season, the lineup would probably look like Sears, Bradley, Burnett, Miller and Bediako.
Sears has gotten a lot of work this summer running the point as Quinerly and Bradley aren't able to practice, and Oats seems to be more comfortable with him running the show as the off-season progresses.
The Tide could choose to play big at times, with Gurley, Miller, and Bediako all on the floor together, joined by any two guards. Oats has a tendency for small ball, but his biggest determining factor for a player is shooting. With Gurley already having a full green-light, this "big" lineup could prove overpowering, with three players taller than 6-foot-8 and four threatening shooters.
While lots of offseason departures can sometimes make a fan base feel uncertain, there is no reason to have anything but hope for this year's squad. Even with the uncertainty of injuries, Nate Oats is assembling a special squad that has the potential to run to the top of the SEC again. Don't be shocked if the Tide cut down the nets in Nashville this season.