Why Alabama Basketball has become a recruiting powerhouse

NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - Final Four - Practice
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - Final Four - Practice / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Alabama has transformed its basketball program from relative dormancy to national relevance under Coach Nate Oats. The accomplishments speak for themselves; Alabama won both the SEC regular season and tournament championships in 2020-21 and 2022-23, also reaching the Sweet 16 in both seasons. It earned the no. 1 overall seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament and advanced to the 2024 Final Four. Parallel to all of this on-court success has been tons of momentum on the recruiting trail. 

Over the last three years, Bama has cleaned up, getting virtually whoever it wants from both the high school ranks and the transfer portal. It has landed plenty of 5-star recruits, including JD Davison (2021), Brandon Miller (2022), and Derrion Reid (2024). It has also landed some of the most highly-sought after transfer portal targets, such as Grant Nelson last offseason and Cliff Omoruyi in the current cycle. With Oats at the helm, Alabama is now a regular contender for the nation’s top prospects. 

Attractiveness of Style

Coach Oats has a distinct style that he likes to play, especially on offense. Oats’ teams play up-tempo, fast-paced basketball with a focus on efficiency. Oats prefers to line the perimeter with shooters, effectively spacing out opposing defenses, with the ultimate goal of orchestrating an all-out assault on the rim. Though the three-point shot is a huge part of Bama’s attack and has become synonymous with Oats’ system, Alabama is regularly one of the top teams in the country in points in the paint

This analytically-based style has been the subject of criticism (particularly when shots aren’t falling), but the results it has produced are undeniable. In addition to winning games on the court, Coach Oats’ style has contributed mightily to Bama’s recruiting surge.

Numerous Alabama commits, including Rutgers transfer Cliff Omoruyi, have cited similarities between Bama Hoops and the NBA game as key factors in their decisions. Assistant coach Preston Murphy reiterated this selling point on the Crimson Crossover podcast following Omoruyi’s highly-anticipated commitment. 

Look for Coach Oats’ unique and innovative style to continue to breed success on the court while simultaneously contributing to Bama’s roster-building process.