The frontcourt duo Alabama Basketball needs

Alabama v Connecticut
Alabama v Connecticut / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Coach Nate Oats has put a distinct emphasis on shoring up his backcourt so far this offseason. With the additions of Houston Mallette, Chris Youngblood, and Aden Holloway, plus the retention of Latrell Wrightsell Jr., Alabama should be very solid at guard heading into 2024-25. This group is experienced across every level of college basketball and will bring elite perimeter shooting. With the possibility of a Mark Sears return and/or the potential addition of Labaron Philon, Bama could feature one of the best backcourts in the country. 

The Crimson Tide frontcourt, on the other hand, is a question mark for the second consecutive offseason. Freshmen Derrion Reid and Naas Cunningham will be asked to shoulder a heavy load on the wing, as a slew of potential returning contributors including Rylan Griffen, Sam Walters, Davin Cosby, and redshirt Kris Parker have all hit the portal. 

Bama does expect to retain a promising pair of rising sophomores in Jarin Stevenson and Mouhamed Dioubate. Both players project as natural fours, or the power forward position, in Nate Oats’ system. 

At the five, Bama may need some help. Veterans Nick Pringle and Mo Wague have already announced their intentions to transfer. 5-star recruit Aiden Sherrell will provide a boost at the five, but it’s becoming increasingly unwise to over-rely on freshmen in college basketball.

So, who does Nate Oats need to add down low?

Bama clearly needs a center. It played the entire 2023-24 season without a sufficient true five after Charles Bediako’s untimely departure. The Tide was able to piece together players like Pringle and Wague, along with Grant Nelson, to get by at the position. Each of these players have incomplete skill sets at the five, but were able to get the job done by committee.  

In my opinion, two players in particular would make the five a strength for Alabama Basketball and would complete this 2024-25 roster as a national title contender. 

The first step would be to retain Grant Nelson. After transferring from North Dakota State, Nelson took his lumps in the SEC. However, he grew a great deal and was a difference-maker by season’s end. Though he may need to add a little weight to contend with opposing centers, Nelson plays much tougher than his measurables would suggest. Additionally, his length and perimeter skills add a dangerous element to the Alabama frontcourt. 

Grant Nelson gained invaluable experience this year in helping lead Alabama to the Final Four. He developed into a reliable rim protector and gradually gained confidence on the offensive end of the floor. It’s easy to see him becoming an All-SEC player with one more season in Tuscaloosa. 

Nelson and Sherrell can’t man the five spot by themselves, so the next critical step would be to sign a veteran transfer addition. Alabama has a golden opportunity to secure the one piece it was missing throughout last season: a physical, athletic, true big who can protect the rim, control the glass, and finish plays with authority. Rutgers transfer Clifford Omoruyi fits the bill, and will be visiting Tuscaloosa this weekend. 

At 6’11” and 240 pounds, Omoruyi averaged just shy of 3.0 blocks per game last season and would give Bama an extra edge down low, particularly on defense. He was not a one-hit wonder either. Over the last three seasons at Rutgers, he has started 98 games and averaged 11.9 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game. He is currently considering several schools, but figures to be one of the best bigs in college basketball wherever he ends up. 

Omoruyi is an excellent fit for this roster, and will continue to be a major priority for Coach Nate Oats. If Oats can secure the Rutgers transfer and keep Grant Nelson in town, Alabama may be primed for another Final Four run.