No Final Four without Alabama Crimson Tide trio

It took many players on a deep Alabama Crimson Tide roster to reach the Final Four. Without the three returning players it would not have happened.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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Mark Sears and his Alabama Crimson Tide career

Mark Sears played at Muscle Shoals High School, before leaving Alabama for a senior season at Hargrave Academy. His college options were limited; Ohio University, South Alabama, and UAB. He chose Ohio and the MAC. As a sophomore at Ohio, Sears averaged 12.5 ppg in 35 starts.

Nate Oats brought him back to Alabama. In the 2022-23 season, Sears played in all 37 games for the Crimson Tide. His minutes played, three-point accuracy, rebounds, and assists went down from his sophomore season in the MAC. His scoring average dipped from 19.6 ppg at Ohio to 12.5 points ppg in Tuscaloosa.

Rather than becoming discouraged, Sears used the offseason to improve. He reached an offseason goal of 15,000 made threes. As he said after earning the MVP Award for the 2024 NCAA Tournament West Region, "hard work is undefeated,"

This season Sears again started every game. His minutes grew to an average of 33.4. His field-goal shooting went up to 50.4%, including an increased 43.4% from outside the arc. His free throw shooting, rebounding, and assists all went up. His scoring average exploded and led the SEC at 21.5 ppg.