Alabama basketball is loaded with talent for the upcoming 2022-23 season, and a lot of that talent resides in the backcourt. Even with All-SEC senior Jahvon Quinerly expected to be sidelined for much of the non-conference schedule, the Tide may boast one of the best backcourts in the league.
When Jahvon Quinerly does return, he should resume his post as one of the best point guards in the country. Despite his injury status, Quinerly was voted preseason second team All-SEC and named to the Bob Cousy Award watch list. Overall, he has been a consistent performer since transferring from Villanova, averaging 13.4 points and 3.7 assists in his Alabama career.
The crafty veteran averaged career highs of 13.8 points per game and 4.2 assists per game in 2021-22. Perhaps most exciting for Alabama basketball fans, JQ posted these numbers in the midst of a shooting slump. He connected on just 28 percent of his three point shots, after being one of the SEC’s best marksmen the year prior at over 43 percent. If his three ball starts falling again, he is an SEC Player of the Year caliber point guard.
Alabama Basketball: Point guard outlook minus Quinerly
In his absence, Ohio transfer Mark Sears and freshman Jaden Bradley will battle for the day-one point guard slot. Both are more than capable, and should make each other better in competing for the job.
Sears, an Alabama native, averaged 19.6 points, six rebounds, four assists, and nearly two steals per game last year while shooting over 40 percent from three point range as a sophomore for the Ohio Bobcats. His scoring ability and experience will make him an instant contributor in the Alabama backcourt.
Freshman Jaden Bradley was a 5-star recruit who was ranked as the 25th best overall player and the third best point guard in the class of 2022 by 247Sports. Bradley is an old-school, pass-first point guard that excels with talent around him. His game has a physical element as well. Assuming he acclimates well to the college game, he should push for playing time immediately and bring some stability to the Alabama offense.
Alabama Basketball: Competition at 2-Guard
On the wing, Nate Oats has a lot of options he could go to. Former Texas Tech transfer Nimari Burnett has dealt with injury issues. He enters his third year in college despite having played in just 12 career games. Still, the former McDonald’s All-American has a lot of promise on both ends of the floor and will compete for the two guard spot.
Junior Darius Miles brings athleticism to the wing spots. He played in 30 games for Alabama last season, averaging 5.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.
Dominick Welch, a graduate transfer from St. Bonaventure, is a versatile and big-bodied wing. Welch will bring a ton of experience to Tuscaloosa, having started over 100 career games. He has been a consistent performer throughout his career, averaging 11 points and six rebounds per game while shooting 37 percent from the three point line over four seasons. He will bring a lot of value with his three point shooting and rebounding ability from the wing.
Alabama is also high on freshman wing Rylan Griffen. Griffen was a 4-star, rated as the 56th best player and third best shooting guard in the nation. He is an elite scorer, which immediately makes him a contender at the two guard position.
Burnett, Miles, Welch, and Griffen all have the size to play the three (small forward) if Alabama decides to go small with a three-guard lineup.
Coach Nate Oats has a lot of decisions to make regarding his backcourt. Things will only get muddier when an all-conference level point guard in Quinerly returns to the lineup just as a rotation is finally being established. There is no absence of ability or experience in this backcourt. If the group can become a cohesive unit, it will be one of the SEC’s best.