Assessing the state of the Alabama Backcourt

Alabama v Connecticut
Alabama v Connecticut / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

Though Bama Hoops is still awaiting the all-important decision of All-American guard Mark Sears, Coach Nate Oats has done a good job early this offseason of building a quality backcourt. 

The backcourt was a point of concern given that the Tide’s top-5 ranked high school class of 2024 recruiting haul did not include any guards. When considering the possibility that Sears, Aaron Estrada (out of eligibility), and Latrell Wrightsell Jr. all could have chosen to depart, the backcourt would’ve been left vacant. 

However, over the past several weeks, Oats has earned some valuable signatures and retained one of the most important pieces of Bama’s Final Four team. 

Latrell Wrightsell Jr. will return for his fifth and final season of college basketball and a critical year two in Tuscaloosa. In 2023-24, injuries kept Wrightsell Jr. in and out of the lineup and prevented him from reaching his ceiling. Still, the veteran guard played enough to prove his value.

Averaging just under nine points per game, he connected on nearly 45 percent of his three-pointers to lead the team. In addition to being a knockdown shooter, he provided a calming presence in the Alabama backcourt, rarely made mistakes, and was a plus defender on a team that didn’t have many. Wrightsell Jr. should see an increased role next season and be one of the SEC’s better guards.

Not only was Oats able to keep Wrightsell Jr. in Tuscaloosa, he landed key transfer commitments from USF’s Chris Youngblood and Pepperdine’s Houston Mallette. Both players are elite shooters on the wing that each connected on over 41.5 percent of their three-point attempts on high volume last season. With these additions, an Alabama Basketball team that has been one of the most potent in the land from beyond the arc over the last two seasons could be even better going into 2024-25. 

Nate Oats was also able to get a third massive pickup in former Auburn point guard Aden Holloway. Holloway was a 5-star recruit in the class of 2023 who spent one year on the Plains and started 26 games for Bruce Pearl’s Tigers. He had a frustrating and largely inefficient freshman season, but could take a major sophomore leap in Nate Oats’ shot-happy and player-friendly system.

With these four players in the boat, all bringing unique skill sets and experiences, the Alabama backcourt looks primed to compete at the highest levels of college basketball. This is a very veteran group who should shoot the lights out of nearly every gym it walks in.

It’s almost scary to think that this unit may also include Mark Sears, who would be arguably the best guard in the nation should he choose to return for another year.

Look for Coach Oats to go all-in on selling Sears to return before turning his attention strictly to the frontcourt.