Alabama Basketball: Crimson Tide to be strong on the wing again?

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports /

With hoops season quickly approaching, Coach Nate Oats and Alabama Basketball hope to recreate the magic from their 2022-23 SEC Championship season.

Oats-coached teams are always strong in the backcourt, and this year should be no exception with Mark Sears, Aaron Estrada, and Latrell Wrightsell Jr. leading the way.

Even with the unexpected departure of Charles Bediako, Bama should be solid in the frontcourt as well. With the return of Nick Pringle, aided by newcomers such as Grant Nelson, Mohamed Wague, and Jarin Stevenson, the Tide expect to be deep and versatile down low.

The X-factor for this team could be on the wings. Last season, the wing was an overwhelming strength of the team, largely due to the presence of first-team All-American and no. 2 overall draft pick Brandon Miller.

With Miller moving on, Bama will be very inexperienced on the wings. However, one promising returnee and a trio of freshmen look to fill the massive void left behind by Miller.

Alabama Basketball: Youthful talent on the wing

Sophomore Rylan Griffen was one of the pleasant surprises of last season’s team. Griffen was a 4-star recruit coming out of high school, but wasn’t expected to contribute much on a loaded team. Bama had plenty of vets, and there were already two other freshmen in the 2022 class that were receiving more hype in Brandon Miller and Noah Clowney.

Still, Griffen was very effective when he got his opportunities. The 6’6” wing was a streaky shooter that gave an already-explosive offensive team an extra weapon when he was on.

He scored in double figures eight times, including a seven-game stretch from late January to early February in which he hit the mark five times. Griffen averaged 10.7 points during this three-week stretch (which included a scoreless outing at Tennessee), and shot 16-31 from the three-point line (51.6 percent).

For the year, Griffen averaged 5.9 points and 2.6 rebounds per game while shooting roughly 30 percent from three. He showed boundless potential in spurts, and will be relied upon to be a much more consistent contributor while also providing a leadership role this season.

Freshmen Davin Cosby, Kris Parker, and Sam Walters will also have the opportunity to play important roles. Cosby is a 6’5” redshirt freshman who reclassified to join the team in January of 2023. As a result, he got the chance to practice and travel with one of the best Bama teams of all-time, hopefully expediting his development in the process.

Parker and Walters, both true freshmen, are supersized wings with similar body types. While they may need to add some weight, their length and skill on the perimeter is intriguing. Parker is listed on the Alabama Basketball roster as a 6’9” guard, while Walters comes in listed as a 6’10” forward.

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Cosby and Walters were both 4-star recruits in the class of 2023, though Cosby reclassified to 2022. Parker was considered a 3-star product in the class of 2023.