What a Mark Sears Return Means for Alabama

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 15: Alabama Crimson Tide guard Mark Sears (1) dribbles down the floor during a quarterfinal round game of the men's Southeastern Conference Tournament between the Florida Gators and Alabama Crimson Tide, March 15, 2024, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire)

(Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire)

Alabama fans held their breath for the entire month of May as the deadline approached for its best player to make a decision on his future.

Mark Sears would send Crimson Tide nation into a frenzy on Wednesday night by making it official that he would be pulling his name out of the NBA Draft pool and returning to Tuscaloosa for a final year of eligibility coming off the team’s first-ever Final Four appearance.


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While things came together at the right time for the team as a whole and the general level of play was raised across the whole roster, make no mistake, Sears was the catalyst for Alabama’s devastating offense all season long.

Sears averaged over 21.5 points per game along with four assists while playing nearly 34 minutes a night (all career highs) en route to a historic season for Alabama, but the opportunity they have next season is now even greater.

For the first time possibly ever, Alabama is among (and possibly at the top of) the preseason favorites to win a college basketball national championship.

It has been an outstanding offseason for Nate Oats and his staff, and landing Sears back was really just the cherry on top.

While the team lost a couple of transfers, they did an unbelievable job in replacing talent they lost and adding pieces last year’s team didn’t have.

Adding Chris Youngblood, Houston Mallette, and Aden Holloway out of the transfer portal at the guard position along with returning Latrell Wrightsell Jr and bringing in freshman LaBaron Philon gives the Tide one of the deepest backcourts in the nation.

The 2023-24 team struggled with rim protection, so Oats went out and added the best one in the portal in Rutgers center Clifford Omoruyi, which will allow Grant Nelson (also returning) to slot back into his natural four position.

Jarin Stevenson, who also entered the draft pool, announced on Wednesday night that he too would be returning and should continue to develop.

And none of that even accounts for the No. 2 in the nation incoming high school class that includes five-stars Derrion Reid and Aiden Sherrell as well as four-stars Philon and Naas Cunningham.

Every hole on the roster is filled, and it’s filled with what looks like the deepest team in college basketball headed into the 2024-25 season.

The Alabama Crimson Tide may very well have its best chance ever to win a national championship in front of them.