Alabama Basketball: More frontcourt decisions looming

NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - Final Four
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - Final Four / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

With Nick Pringle announcing his decision to depart the program via the NCAA transfer portal, the frontcourt picture for Alabama Basketball heading into 2024-25 got a little more clear. However, there are several more decisions on the horizon for Tide bigs.

Nick Pringle had an up-and-down season, but was ultimately an important piece for Bama, particularly in the postseason. He was the Crimson Tide’s only physical low post presence at times, and proved his value defensively and on the glass. In addition, his energy and athleticism gave Bama an extra edge. 

With Pringle out the door, all eyes turn to Grant Nelson. Nelson’s decision was always the most important in the frontcourt, but it seems even more critical now with Pringle gone.

Grant Nelson is a versatile forward who started all 37 games for Alabama last year. He averaged roughly 12 points and 6 rebounds per game, adding a team-high 1.6 blocks per contest. His length and athleticism made him an effective player as he transitioned to the SEC after transferring from North Dakota State. Though he was at times overmatched in the post, his perimeter skills often made him a matchup problem for opposing bigs. 

Nelson has the option to test the NBA Draft waters and could also explore the transfer portal. Of course, he would be a welcome returnee back in Tuscaloosa for another year. So far, he hasn’t been committal in either direction. Should he return, Alabama would benefit from having his athleticism as well as his experience as a returning starter. With a year of SEC ball under his belt, it’s fair to assume he could make a big jump in year two. 

Behind Grant Nelson, true freshman Jarin Stevenson is a critical piece for Alabama to retain. By all accounts, he has enjoyed his time at Alabama, and we have no reason to assume he won’t return other than the general unpredictability of college athletics.

Stevenson gave the Tide 5.3 points and 2.7 rebounds per game in almost 17 minutes per night. He started five games as a reclassified freshman and hit nearly 32 percent of his threes. He has been lauded as a promising NBA prospect due to his length, youth, and stretch-big potential, so it wouldn’t be unfathomable for him to jump to the league. 

Should he return, Stevenson will be a major breakout candidate for Alabama. 

Reserve bigs Mo Wague and Mo Dioubate also have decisions to make. Wague started eight games for Alabama in his junior year, but mostly played a limited role. He provides solid rim protection on the defensive end of the floor, but doesn’t offer much offensive upside. With Nelson and Stevenson possibly returning, plus highly-touted freshman Aiden Sherrell coming on board, Wague may choose to look for greener pastures. If he stays in Tuscaloosa, he will be an experienced big that gives Alabama quality frontcourt depth.

Similarly, Dioubate’s role wasn’t massive, but the freshman showed a lot of potential. He made major contributions in a home win over Mississippi State and in an NCAA Tournament victory over Grand Canyon. An undersized big, he is very competitive on the glass and is underrated as a finisher and as a rim protector.

While Nate Oats continues to scour the portal for quality bigs, these stay-or-go decisions will likely shape the Alabama frontcourt heading into next season.