What Alabama basketball coach, Nate Oats is swimming upstream against

(Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images) /

Review the decades-long history of Alabama basketball Top 100, player signings to see the recruiting challenges faced by Nate Oats.

Alabama basketball coach, Nate Oats is like all mid-major and high-major coaches in one respect. Winning requires ballers to execute any system. Those ‘ballers’ may end up having been lesser-valued recruits, but for any program to consistently win, it needs some Top 100 recruits.

Yes, there are exceptions, though the exceptions most often come from a hot team for a season. Some basketball coaches do more with less, developing a group of lower-valued players, into a big-winning team for a few seasons.

But the norm is it takes elite talent to win. That is why Duke and Kentucky and other college basketball bluebloods win with such frequency. Alabama basketball has never had such a luxury of talent.

Backing up the above claim is history. Using multiple sources, like Hoop Scoop Onlinebasketballreference.com and 247Sports, it was possible to track back to the 1983 signing class. It would be great to go back to C.M. Newton’s seasons, but the information is not available. The available data is 38 signing class (including 2020) for analysis.

The measuring benchmark used was Top 100 recruits who competed for the Alabama Crimson Tide.  In the 38 seasons, nine times Alabama basketball was unable to recruit any Top 100 players. In the other 29 seasons, the total number of Top 100 signings is 48. The 48th, being the recent verbal commit, Josh Primo.

Arguably the best of those 29 classes were 1999, 2011 and 2017. The ‘best’ as measured player ratings, not how they played in college. The 1999 class included No. 21 Rod Grizzard, No. 72 Erwin Dudley and No. 74, Kenny Walker. The 2011 class had  No. 30, Levi Randolph, No. 41, Trevor Lacey and No. 92, Nick Jacobs. In the 2017 class were No. 5, Collin Sexton, No. 33 John Petty Jr. and No. 96 Alex Reese.

How many game-changers have signed with the Tide during the same period? By defining game-changers as Top 25 recruits, we get the short list below.

  • 1989 – James ‘Hollywood’ Robinson, rated No. 19 in the class
  • 1993 – Antonio McDyess, No. 22
  • 1999 – Rod Grizzard, No. 21
  • 2000 – Gerald Wallace, No. 7
  • 2001 – Mo Williams, No. 10
  • 2005 – Richard Hendrix, No. 10
  • 2008 – JaMychal Green, No. 14
  • 2012 – Devonta Pollard, No. 25
  • 2017 – Collin Sexton, No. 5

For those wondering, Josh Primo is No. 47 in the 247Sports Composite and looking at just the 247Sports rating, he is No. 27.

The geographical distribution of the Top 100 signings is interesting. Twenty-five signings came from the state of Alabama, nine from Georgia, three from Mississippi and three from Florida, plus another eight from seven different states.

The biggest recruiting obstacle facing Nate Oats is can he sign Top 100 players, nationally. Anthony Grant and Avery Johnson tried to do it. They had modest success. Their limited success led to Alabama basketball rosters, too often lacking in talent. Nate Oats will have to better. He will have to surpass Alabama basketball’s historical, recruiting record.

Next. After Primo, an early 2020-21 Lineup. dark

This post does not suggest Oats should give in to Alabama basketball recruiting history. On the contrary, he needs to swim as hard as he can.