Alabama Basketball: Nate Oats has flipped the Tide’s NBA switch

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

Until Nate Oats, the last time Alabama Basketball had two former players chosen in the NBA Draft first round was 1995. In that NBA Draft, Antonio McDyess was selected as the No. 2 overall pick, and Jason Caffey was drafted at No. 20.

Since then the Alabama Crimson Tide has had a total of five first-round picks. Going back to 1996 when Roy Rogers was selected in the first round, only 12 former Crimson Tide players have been drafted by the NBA.

In strong contrast was the 2023 NBA Draft on Thursday night.  The Charlotte Hornets used their No. 2 overall pick to select Brandon Miller, last season’s Alabama star and SEC Player of the Year.

Not since McDyess in 1995 has a former Alabama Crimson Tide player been drafted as high as Brandon Miller.

For weeks NBA Draft rumors were the Hornets were vacillating between Miller and Scoot Henderson. Thursday night, Adrian Wojnarowski clarified the Hornets never had any doubt.

"All along, the entire Charlotte Hornets organization has been all-in on Brandon Miller — ownership, front office, scouts, coaches. They see him as a perennial future All-Star player."

Also going in the 2023 NBA Draft first round, at the No. 21 pick to the Brooklyn Nets, was Noah Clowney. When Nate Oats landed Clowney, the thin freshman-to-be was not considered a one-and-done level player. After his emergence in Tuscaloosa, Clowney went into the NBA Draft with multiple teams raving about his potential. The Nets’ roster needs much help and using their top pick on Clowney speaks volumes about the young man and the Alabama basketball program.

Alabama Basketball Turnaround

Prior to Nate Oats becoming the Alabama Basketball head coach, no Crimson Tide players were drafted in the 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 draft cycles. Alabama head coach, Avery Johnson busted through that Draft wall in 2018 when Collin Sexton was taken as the No. 8 pick in the first round.

Since Sexton, six former Alabama Crimson Tide players have been drafted. Avery Johnson brought one of them to Tuscaloosa; Kira Lewis Jr. Nate Oats coached all six. Counting Sexton, five of the last seven Alabama players drafted were NBA first-round selections.

What Nate Oats has accomplished in Tuscaloosa since taking over the team for the 2019-20 season is nothing short of phenomenal.

College basketball has changed considerably in recent years. A few fanbases still claim elite status, but the reality is ‘blue-bloods’ no longer exist. On Wednesday night, when Jarin Stevenson announced his commitment to the Crimson Tide, North Carolina fans were stunned. In their minds, no top player would ever choose the Crimson Tide over the Tar Heels.

On Thursday night only one of the first five draft picks was a college player. And that college was the University of Alabama.

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As was expected former Alabama player, Charles Bediako was not drafted.