Alabama Basketball: Nate Oats building something special

Alabama v Connecticut
Alabama v Connecticut / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

Coach Nate Oats is once again putting together a championship-caliber roster after landing elite 2024 point guard Labaron Philon on Sunday. 

Oats’ last four teams in Tuscaloosa have included four NCAA Tournament appearances, two regular season conference championships, two SEC tournament championships, three Sweet 16 appearances, and a trip to the Final Four. His next team is becoming more and more suited to make its own mark with every passing week. 

The offseason additions of Pepperdine transfer Houston Mallette, USF transfer Chris Youngblood, Auburn transfer Aden Holloway, and now Philon should make Bama’s backcourt one of the nation’s best. Once again, the Tide should be a very prolific three-point shooting team under Oats, and should excel at pushing the tempo. 

Alabama still seemingly awaits three key decisions: the stay-or-go choices of All-American guard Mark Sears and starting forward Grant Nelson, and the transfer destination of former Rutgers center Cliff Omoruyi. 

Regardless of whether or not these dominos fall the way of the Crimson Tide, Coach Oats has done a stellar job so far this offseason. During his time at Alabama, he has commonly dealt with high levels of roster turnover. He has always responded admirably, pulling from every available resource and proving to be one of the best in the business at roster reconstruction.

Of course, there is always some risk to this approach. Assembling almost an entirely new roster every year via traditional high school recruiting and the transfer portal is not easy, and there is the ever-present chance that the pieces won’t quite mesh properly.

Still, Oats’ batting percentage is impressive. He has a keen eye for critical intangibles as well as raw basketball skills. Some of his teams gel instantly, like the 2022-23 group, while others such as the 2023-24 team may take a while to find their groove.

Next season could be one of Coach Oats’ best teams yet. He will once again be heavily reliant on highly-touted freshmen and gritty mid-major transfers, but that formula has been largely successful thus far. Key returnees like Latrell Wrightsell Jr., Jarin Stevenson, and perhaps Nelson and Sears will make the transition go much smoother. 

It may look a little different every year, but Nate Oats and Alabama Basketball are here to stay. Look for the team to once again contend for the SEC crown in 2024-25 and beyond.