Alabama Basketball: Estimating the net gain of Grant Nelson


When Alabama Basketball landed North Dakota State transfer Grant Nelson, news that recently became official, they essentially swapped the mobile 6’11” big for Charles Bediako.

Bediako started at center for two years in Tuscaloosa before surprising everyone and keeping his name in the 2023 NBA Draft. He went undrafted before signing a deal with the San Antonio Spurs.

Nelson for Bediako isn’t exactly an apples-to-apples trade, as both players have different strengths and bring value in different ways.

Charles Bediako is more of a traditional center He excelled at protecting the rim, running the floor, and finishing lobs, whether in pick-and-roll or out of the dunker spot. On last season’s Alabama Basketball team, which had ample amounts of scoring, shooting, and ball-handling, Bediako played his niche role well and complemented the group effectively.

On the 2023-24 team, Grant Nelson provides the Crimson Tide with a little more versatility. It is likely that returning big Nick Pringle will play a role more similar to that of Bediako, freeing up Nelson to display his perimeter skills.

At 6’11”, Nelson is very athletic and mobile. He possesses respectable ball-handling skills and moves like a wing at times. While he isn’t an elite outside shooter, Nelson shot a similar percentage on comparable volume to Noah Clowney in 2022-23. He is a streaky shooter that, at the very least, demands some respect with his confidence.

Grant Nelson is also a solid rebounder and a shot-blocking presence, which will go a long way towards replacing Bediako on the defensive end of the floor. The transfer forward is slight of frame and will likely not be the defensive force that Bediako proved to be, but he is long and athletic enough to be effective on the back line of Bama’s defense.

The frontcourt for Alabama Basketball was also boosted by the late addition of Jarin Stevenson, a 6’10” forward who reclassified from the class of 2024. Stevenson may have some growing pains, but the return of Pringle and the arrival of Nelson will allow him to play a smaller role in year one.

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Heading into 2023-24, Alabama doesn’t have one player that provides the exact value of Charles Bediako, or Noah Clowney for that matter. Still, Coach Nate Oats has built a versatile frontcourt that can be just as effective as last season’s group, even if it looks a little different.