Alabama Basketball: Breakout seasons for these two returnees

Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News
Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News /

Alabama Basketball only returns three players that were significant contributors in the 2022-23 season, which saw it win the SEC regular season and tournament championship.

One of those players, senior guard Mark Sears, is one of the undisputed leaders of the team from his backcourt position. The former Ohio transfer was named second-team All-SEC in his first season at Alabama, and is projected to once again receive second-team honors this season.

Sears looks to improve upon his junior year production of 12.5 points and 2.6 assists per game and establish himself as one of the SEC’s best guards.

So who are the other two Alabama Basketball returnees?

Sophomore wing Rylan Griffen and senior forward Nick Pringle are both entering their second years in the program. Both played significant but non-critical roles off the bench last season, and both will be asked to step their game up in a major way in 2023-24.

Griffen gave the Tide quality depth on the wing behind Brandon Miller last season. Although he was streaky, he showed the ability to be an offensive sparkplug, scoring in double-figures eight times. This season, Rylan Griffen will lead a group of youngsters on the wing, including true freshmen Sam Walters and Kris Parker.

Griffen likely will not provide Brandon Miller-level production, and it would be overly ambitious to expect him to do so. Still, I think he will become more consistent as a perimeter shooter. As a result, he will give the Tide an efficient three-level scorer and will be one of the better two-way wings in the conference.

A year after giving Alabama Basketball good reserve minutes behind Charles Bediako, former JUCO product Nick Pringle will have the opportunity to be an impact contributor at the five spot.

Pringle is not a classic back-to-the-basket big; instead, he excels in catch and convert situations. At 6’10” with explosive power and vertical athleticism to spare, Pringle is the quintessential lob threat. He can play from the dunker spot, run pick-and-roll with Bama’s dynamic group of guards, and crashes the offensive glass hard every time.

Pringle shot nearly 85 percent (50-59) from the field in his limited role last season, and scored in double figures five times. His best two games were both double-doubles, notching 19 points and 12 rebounds against Georgia before recording 19 points and 15 rebounds in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

In 2023-24, Nick Pringle will probably play a more expanded version of his role from last year. Expect him to continue his duties as a rim runner, lob threat, shot-blocker, and rebounder while giving Alabama basketball a physical presence down low. He will share the frontcourt with transfer additions Grant Nelson and Mohamed Wague.

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If Rylan Griffen and Nick Pringle both make significant jumps in their development, in combination with some talented transfer additions, Alabama Basketball will be primed for another great season.