All indications are Nate Oats and the Alabama basketball program were caught off-guard by Charles Bediako’s decision to remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. After participating in the G League Combine, Bediako did not gain an invite to the NBA Draft Combine. The chance he will be a late second-round selection in June is slim. Nate Oats and his staff had good reason to believe Bediako would return to Tuscaloosa for a third college season.
Suddenly Alabama Basketball has three scholarships available and only one returning big man.
Apparently whatever Bediako was expected to earn in NIL money will at least be matched and possibly exceeded by an NBA two-way contract of up to $500K-plus. It is also presumed Bediako has been told by at least one NBA team that such a deal will be offered. The risk for Bediako is the guaranteed dollars in the two-way deals are only $50K. Bediako will also have the option to play in Europe or other international leagues with possibly higher compensation than the largest dollars in an NBA two-way deal.
Certainly, Alabama basketball fans wish the best for Charles Bediako. That does not change the reality that Bediako’s departure dims the Crimson Tide’s prospects for the 2023-24 season. In the Alabama basketball next season roster, Nate Oats has one big. It is 6’9″ Nick Pringle, who is capable of dynamic play but is also foul-prone. Another big body and preferably an established rim protector must be added. Other than graduate transfers the options for Nate Oats are few.
The recent ranking of the Top 150, Transfer Portal players, compiled by 247Sports includes six available centers, ranging from the No. 15 transfer player to No. 142. The two highest-rated, Ernest Udeh and Graham Ike are projected to have Duke and Gonzaga, respectively as their most likely destinations. None of the seven have been previously linked with interest in Alabama Basketball.
The Next Alabama Basketball Big?
Alabama’s sudden opening is a great opportunity for prospects to step into a role almost assured of considerable minutes. More than a few big men will be interested. Nate Oats’ staff likely already has a list, far longer than the seven names in the Transfer Portal.
Alabama fans are hopeful 6’9″, Jarin Stevenson’s recent reclassification decision will bring him to Tuscaloosa. He is expected to announce a school on June 9, but recruiting insiders project North Carolina leads for Stevenson and Virginia is also a possibility. Stevenson is a Noah Clowney replacement with a high upside, but not a big body big.
Nate Oats should get some recruiting help soon. In June, with an expired show cause, Preston Murphy is expected to join the Alabama basketball staff. He will provide an immediate recruiting boost for the Crimson Tide.