Game Programs a Must for 23-24 Tide Hoops Nation
While there are a few familiar faces, they are indeed few and far between.
That's a good way to sum up the roster and likley playing rotation for the fifth Nate Oats basketball team at the University of Alabama.
Folks who follow the program will remember returning starter Mark Sears. He was solid last year. They will remember two key subs who will now be counted on to start, wing Rylan Griffen and post man Nick Pringle. From a scholarship perspective, that is where the familiarity ends unless you count one semester redshirt Davin Cosby, whose role on this year's team is to be determined by several factors, including practice performance and the health of his teammates.
Sears, Griffen and Pringle all appear to be strong candidates to start for Oats in the coming season. After that? Scorecard time.
It's fairly certain the other two starters will be Hofstra transfer Aaron Estrada at guard and former North Dakota State star Grant Nelson, both of whom Oats and his new staff worked long and hard to recruit and sign.
Oats likes Estrada's ability to create shots for himself, while Nelson is a 6-11 NBA prospect who can do a lot of things on the court. "It'll be a little bit different than probably anybody we've had here before, but maybe a cross between Brandon (Miller) and (Noah) Clowney" is how Oats put it. That's strong.
Oats likes to use combo guards as sixth men, so don't be surprised if the first guy off the bench is 6-3 Latrell Wrightsell, who came to Tuscaloosa from Fullerton, CA.
Injuries over the summer have caused two possible rotation members to not be able to practice live. One was being counted on big time and still likely will be, and the other will have to work his way into the rotation if he can. The first is Mohamed Wague, a 6-10 center who comes from West Virginia. His skill set is much like that of the departed Charles Bediako, and when he heals up, he will be part of the playing when or if Pringle gets in foul trouble, as Nick is prone to do.
Wague and Mo Dioubate are both set to return to action in around four weeks, but the latter will have to shake off even more rust after early summer knee surgery. Playing time may not come as early and often as he'd like at 6-7, but he's known to crash the boards. That will catch the eye of the head coach.
A diamond in the rough is true freshman Kris Parker, who also has a game like that of Brandon Miller, just not the one-and-done part. He could be the backup for Griffen and Nelson. Look for Parker to be in the regular rotation.
Sam Walters and Jarin Stevenson are two 6-10 guys who both could have a role, especially Stevenson. Oats said of Stevenson: "[He's] 6-10, athletic, moves well, can play on the perimeter and shoot it, he's exactly what we're looking for in frontcourt."
Walters needs to add strength, but he can score inside and out and thus will likely see playing time most nights.
Practice got underway Monday for the Crimson Tide and the media viewing period showed the above projected starting five playing together.
The team will tip off its season on Monday, Nov. 6 at home against Morehead State. Tip time is TBA.
Alabama Basketball All-Time Scoring Leaders