Grant Nelson officially back for Alabama Hoops

Alabama v Connecticut
Alabama v Connecticut / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

With the official news that Alabama will welcome back Grant Nelson coming on Monday, the Crimson Tide frontcourt is starting to come together. 

Nelson is returning for his final season of eligibility and will be a huge component after starting every game for the Tide in 2023-24. He improved throughout his first season in Tuscaloosa, becoming a major difference-maker by the end of the season. 

Nelson averaged just shy of 12 points and six rebounds per game this past season, shooting nearly 50 percent from the field. He gave Alabama a defensive presence as a shot-blocker, and created mismatches with his mobility and ball-handling skills at 6’11”. 

There are two major reasons Bama fans should expect Grant Nelson to be significantly improved next season. Given his progression throughout this past season, a jump is already to be expected, but Nelson could surpass typical projections.

The first is that Nelson is entering his second year in the SEC after transferring up from the mid-major level. Players who stay for a second season after transferring up tend to make drastic jumps in their development. Nelson took his lumps in year one, and was fully adjusted to SEC ball by the end of the season. He will enter 2024-25 already acclimated to the physicality, athleticism, and speed of the high-major game. 

An easy comparison is Alabama guard Mark Sears, who was solid in year one after transferring in from Ohio. Sears, like Nelson, started every game and averaged roughly 12 points per outing in his first year. He returned for another season at Alabama and became an All-American and one of the best scorers in college basketball. It would be bold to assume that Grant Nelson will also become an All-American, but it’s fair to expect significant improvements. 

Secondly, we can expect that Nelson will be playing in a more natural role. Forced to play the center position at times this season, he should be able to play the four more often next year. Alabama has not yet landed a starting-caliber center in the transfer portal, but it has been very aggressive and public in its pursuit of a quality big. This impending addition will only make Grant Nelson more comfortable and make his job easier. 

This 2024-25 Alabama Basketball roster is getting scary good. The retention of Grant Nelson is a huge piece that raises both the ceiling and the floor of this team. Now, we await only a center commitment and a huge decision from Mark Sears.