Alabama Basketball: All-time best Crimson Tide players

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama Basketball is poised to set new Crimson Tide records. The 2022-23 team has already set one team record by winning 31 games in a season. It is two wins away from all-time greatness for an Alabama basketball team. And two more wins after that from being considered one of college basketball’s best champions.

It is a good time to look back at the program, from the C.M. Newton days until now. While waiting in anticipation for the Crimson Tide’s next Big Dance game, Alabama fans have been discussing Alabama’s best players of all time.

Numerous quick assessments have suggested the Crimson Tide’s five best players. Players mentioned by almost everyone are Robert Horry, Antonio McDyess and Derrick McKey.

Bama Hammer is taking a deeper dive. We’ll present an all-time best starting five, but that does not necessarily means the five best players. In addition, three more players are included to give an All-time best Crimson Tide rotation. It can be argued Brandon Miller should be one of the eight. By the end of the NCAA Tournament, that claim might be irrefutable. At this point, only former players are included.

Alabama Basketball All-Time Best Players

  • Center – Antonio McDyess (1994 and 1995 seasons)

McDyess is not the most logical choice at center. Leon Douglas had a more distinguished Crimson Tide career. McDyess played only 59 games at Alabama and literally none of his stats are near the top of any Crimson Tide records list. At the end of his sophomore season, McDyess was one of the best big men in college basketball. At that point, he was playing center better than any Alabama player, before or since.

  • Power Forward – Reggie King (1976, 1977, 1978, 1979 seasons)

A somewhat undersized power forward at 6’6″, King’s physical play was unmatched. ‘Mule’ as King was called was relentless. He was one of Alabama’s toughest players ever, while also being a great rebounder and scorer.

  • Small Forward – Derrick McKey (1985, 1986, 1987 seasons)

McKey was one of the Tide’s most skilled players ever. He could score from anywhere on the court, and though slim in build, was a superb defender against opponents playing at the 2,3, and 4 positions. He shot 58% for his career, including making threes at 42% in the 1987 season.

  • Small Forward – Robert Horry (1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 seasons)

McKey and Horry were similar players, with the difference being Horry was more of a perimeter player. Horry’s career 3PT shooting was 37.1%.

  • Point Guard – Ennis Whatley (1982, 1983 seasons)

Ennis Whatley played only 63 games for the Crimson Tide and did not start as a freshman. He was only an average shooter. He scored less than 900 points in his two-season, Crimson Tide career. Beyond those modest numbers, he was sensational. He could get to the rim and finish against bigger players. He was a good defender and adept at stealing the ball. And he was Crimson Tide Hoops’ best passer – ever.

  • Point Guard – Collin Sexton (2018 season)

Because Sexton was a much better shooter, any separation between him and Whatley relies on outside shooting. Whatley was a better passer and an equal finisher. Whatley was a somewhat better defender. Both Whatley and Sexton were dynamic, game-changing players.

  • Forward – Buck Johnson (1983, 1984, 1985, 1986 seasons)

Stat-wise, it can be argued Johnson is the Tide’s best-ever, two-point shooter. Among Tide players whose shot attempts were not dominated by dunks, Buck was best, making 58.3% in his career, many from mid-range and none outside the arc. He was also a tremendous defender and rebounder.

  • Guard/Forward – T.R. Dunn (1974, 1975, 1976, 1977 seasons)

T.R. was never a prime offensive threat for the Crimson Tide. But Dunn scored 1,247 points in his Crimson Tide career, along with 749 rebounds. He played 111 games for the Crimson Tide and in every one of them, he was the best defensive player on the court.

Alabama Basketball Honorable Mentions

  • Leon Douglas – Center (1973, 1974, 1975, 1976 seasons)
  • Charles Cleveland – Guard (1973, 1974, 1975 seasons)
  • Latrell Sprewell – Forward (1991, 1992 seasons)
  • James ‘Hollywood’ Robinson – Guard (1991, 1992, 1993 seasons)
  • Ronald Steele – Guard (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 seasons)
  • Herbert Jones – Forward (2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 seasons)

Note: Player stats were provided by Sports Reference and

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Many outstanding Alabama Crimson Tide players were not included. Strong arguments could be made that others should have been chosen instead.