There was a time not too long ago where things looked pretty bleak for the hopes of next year’s Alabama Crimson Tide basketball program. After a historic 31-win season that ended earlier than anyone wanted it to, Nate Oats was facing unprecedented challenges. While we knew all season that Brandon Miller and Noah Clowney would be gone, Oats would face several other hiccups throughout this offseason.
In unprecedented fashion, all three of Alabama’s assistant coaches (Antoine Pettway, Charlie Henry, and Bryan Hodgson) left the program to take head coaching jobs. To this point, Oats has only (officially, at least) replaced two of the three. Former Nicholls State head coach Austin Claunch as well as former New Orleans Pelicans assistant Ryan Pannone both took jobs with the team under Oats.
Things came to a boiling point this offseason when Charles Bediako surprised the program with his decision to keep his name in the NBA Draft pool, forcing Oats and co. to immediately pivot and recruit big men. After returning Mark Sears and Jahvon Quinerly as well as bringing in Aaron Estrada and Latrell Wrightsell Jr., we knew Alabama’s back court was in a great spot, but the front court was in trouble.
In the three weeks since Bediako’s announcement, Alabama was able to land both North Dakota State transfer Grant Nelson, and now in the biggest move of the offseason, UNC target Jarin Stevenson. Stevenson, who is a top-five PF in the class of 2024, is reclassifying to join the Tide for this upcoming season and Alabama was able to pull him out of UNC’s own backyard.
You simply cannot understate how impressive of a move that is from Nate Oats. Jarin Stevenson, an elite recruit who grew up in Tar Heels country, is electing to come play for Alabama instead of staying at home and going to UNC. This kind of thing did not even seem fathomable a few years ago.
All of the sudden, just weeks after we were looking at next season as a rebuilding year, Alabama has put itself in a position where they could legitimately compete to defend their SEC Title.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the Nate Oats effect.