Alabama Crimson Tide College Basketball Preview

Alabama Crimson Tide College Basketball Preview
  • Head Coach: Nate Oats (third season)
  • 2020-21 Record: 26-7
  • Notable Wins: at. Tennessee, vs. Arkansas, at. Auburn

The Alabama Crimson Tide got off to an uneven start that featured wins over UNLV & Providence, but losses to Stanford, Clemson, and Western Kentucky. Bama would figure things out, and open SEC play on a tear, winning their first ten games. The Crimson Tide would lose their SEC/Big 12 Challenge game to Oklahoma, before taking their first conference losses to Mizzou and Arkansas on the road.

Nate Oaks’ squad would win their final six games en route to winning the SEC Tournament, narrowly defeating LSU for a third time, 80-79. Alabama would defeat Iona and Maryland handily, but they’d have their season ended by UCLA in an overtime thriller in the Sweet Sixteen.

Alabama Crimson Tide Roster Changes

  • Key Returners: G Jahvon Quinerly, G Keon Ellis
  • Key Losses: F Herb Jones, G John Petty Jr., G Jaden Shackleford
  • Key Newcomers: G JD Davison, C Charles Bedlako, F Noah Gurley

After one of their most successful seasons in school history, Alabama will head into this season without a few familiar faces. The departures of swiss-army knife Herb Jones and versatile two-way guard John Petty Jr. will linger, as they were the team’s top two defenders last season. Petty Jr. was third on the team in scoring (12.6), second in rebounding (5.2), and he often guarded the opposing team’s best player.

Jones returned for his senior season and became a consistent double-double threat. He averaged a well-rounded 11.2 ppg, and a team-leading 6.6 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.7 spg, and 1.1 bpg. He was the gel and his play often elevated the play of those around him on both sides of the ball. Jaden Shackelford led the team in scoring (14.1) he opted to test the NBA Draft waters.

Nate Oaks lost a huge chunk of his rotation and there is a chance Alabama regresses this season, but landing top recruit JD Davison may just prevent that. The 6’3 guard was named Alabama Mr. Basketball twice, and he was the 2020 Gatorade Player of the Year. As a junior, he led Calhoun High School to a state title, while averaging 30.4 ppg, 12 rpg, and 5 apg.

Davison looks set to have an immediate impact on a somewhat depleted rotation. Signing Charles Bedlako from IMG Academy will bring Alabama the interior presence they lacked last season.

Alabama Crimson Tide Charles Bedlako

His 7-foot-3 wingspan should allow him to be an elite rim protector and finisher at the basket. Furman transfer Noah Gurley will be a nice pickup. The 6’8 forward averaged 15.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, and 2.5 apg last season, and he earned All-Southern Conference honors last season after exploding and pouring in 30 points in the finale against VMI. New signee Jusuan Holt has two-way potential, while TTU transfer Nimari Burnett could come in and start.

For everything they lost, retaining Jahvon Quinerly will prove to be huge. Quinerly grew into one of the best point guards in the country last season, averaging 12.9 ppg, 3.2 apg, and leading the Tide in three-point percentage (43.3%). He should have much more to operate this season with proven players like Jones, Petty Jr. and Shackleford out of the picture.

Quinerly and Davison could quietly form the best backcourt in the nation. Keon Ellis and Juwan Gary should have bigger roles in their second seasons, with the former having a chance to start at the beginning of the season. Gary’s playing time grew as the season progressed, and he played 20 minutes or more in each tournament game.

Outlook

Projected Lineup: G Jahvon Quinerly, G JD Davison, G Keon Ellis, F Noah Gurley, C Charles Bedlako

The Crimson Tide will look very different this season. Gone are the physical, imposing presences of Herb Jones and John Petty Jr., and in are new, skilled recruits in JD Davison and Charles Bedlako. Davison is one of the biggest recruits in school history, and a lot will fall on his shoulders during his freshman season.

Bedlako’s presence will alter how teams attack Alabama, while Noah Gurley was one of the sneakiest pickups from the transfer portal. With Quinlerly back and leading the charge, the Tide should remain a tough out. There may be growing pains early, but look for Alabama to find the rhythm and follow up last year’s record-breaking season with another tournament run.

Projected Finish: 1st in SEC, NCAA Tournament Bid

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