Alabama Basketball Opponent Preview: Longwood Lancers

[Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]Alabama Vs Louisiana Exhibition Basketball
[Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]Alabama Vs Louisiana Exhibition Basketball /

Alabama basketball opens its 2022-23 season against the Longwood Lancers of the Big South. Longwood went 26-7 last season, winning the Big South regular season with a 15-1 conference record. The Lancers then went on to win the Big South tournament title, securing an NCAA Tournament berth. They would lose in the first round to Tennessee by a score of 88-56.

Point guard Justin Hill, who led the Lancers in scoring and assists, transferred to Georgia in the offseason. Outside of Hill, Longwood returns most of its production.

Veteran graduate student guards Isaiah Wilkins and Deshaun Wade are both impact players. Wilkins is a big-bodied, physical guard at 220 pounds. He has high-major experience, previously suiting up for Virginia Tech and Wake Forest in the ACC. Wilkins is the leading returning scorer for Longwood at 12.7 points per game. He also led the Lancers in rebounding (6.2 RPG) and steals (1.5 SPG) last season while shooting 39 percent from the three point line.

Wade is a former East Carolina transfer who can fill it up from the outside. He averaged 11.6 points per game last season and led the team in three-point shooting at nearly 45 percent. Nate Lliteras is a floor-stretching wing with good size for the Lancers.

This will be a tough first challenge for Alabama’s unproven group of guards. Freshman Jaden Bradley and transfers Mark Sears and Dom Welch could see a lot of playing time in their Alabama basketball debuts.

In the frontcourt, senior Leslie Nkereuwem and grad student Zac Watson are experienced contributors for the Lancers. Nkereuwem and Watson are solid players, but both are only 6’7”. Longwood could be overwhelmed by the size, length, and depth of the Alabama basketball frontcourt.

Nate Oats can throw multiple bodies at the undersized Lancers. Seven-footer Charles Bediako, the returning starting center, has returned to practice after battling an injury. Freshman Noah Clowney and JUCO transfer Nick Pringle are very athletic shot blockers and lob threats in the paint. Grad student Noah Gurley brings experience and energy to the frontcourt, and could start at one of the forward spots.

Nate Oats put together a difficult schedule for the Crimson Tide this year. Even in opening the season against a mid-major, Oats chose an upper-tier mid-major in Longwood. The Lancers have a lot of experience, returning the vast majority of a team that went to the NCAA tournament last year.

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The Alabama basketball roster is constructed of primarily freshmen and transfers, so this will be a good opportunity for the group to build some chemistry.