After a competitive campaign finishing atop the SEC in 2022/23, winning the 2023 SEC Men’s Basketball Championship, and garnering a No. 1 overall seed at the 2023 NCAA Tournament, Alabama had to deal with loads of roster turnover.
For most program around this country this isn’t new and the Crimson Tide aren’t the exception, losing several underclassmen and key players to the NBA as well as the transfer portal.
However, while Alabama’s roster and staff were gutted this offseason, Head Coach Nate Oats navigated the transfer portal with precision to set his program up for success in the Southeastern Conference once again.
It all starts with Grant Nelson, a potential NBA Lottery pick from North Dakota State who returns to college basketball after going through the draft process and now joins Alabama.
At 6-foot-11 and 230lbs, Nelson can do just about anything offensively with the ball in his hands and will provide a lot of versatility to Oats and his staff. With the SEC’s Preseason All-Conference team’s released just yesterday, Nelson was selected as the Crimson Tide’s lone representative on the First-Team.
Alabama’s Grant Nelson looking like a lottery pick
Watch the last clip here
Oh. My. God.
(Via @PDTScouting 🎥)
— Hoop Herald (@TheHoopHerald) October 11, 2023
Following Nelson, Hofstra transfer Aaron Estrada and Cal State Fullerton transfer Latrell Wrightsell, Jr. will both get opportunities to run the backcourt alongside returner Mark Sears.
Estrada will likely split ball handling duties with Sears, but has a proven ability to score at a high clip averaging 19.4 PPG and 4.7 APG since his arrival at Hofstra where he earned consecutive CAA Player of the Year Awards.
One reason I’m high on Aaron Estrada for Alabama is how translatable his game is to the high-major level.
His 20 PPG didn’t come because he’s faster or more athletic than the competition, but because of his skill level. He’s surgical with the basketball.
— Blake Byler (@blakebyler45) October 16, 2023
Wrightsell brings a more offensively centered shooting game to the Crimson Tide, having managed 16.6 PPG this past season and shooting 38% from three to earn a 2022/23 All-Big West First-Team selection.
Rounding out this transfer grouping is the late addition of Mohamed Wague from West Virginia who’s unfortunately been dealing with injuries all summer, but gives Oats and Co. some much needed depth at the five spot.
With so much turmoil to start the offseason, I think Oats managed one of the best portal cycles of anybody nationally to help replace the 55.7 PPG of offense lost during the transition.
Between Nelson, Estrada, and Wrightsell, it’s clear that Alabama has done an incredible job regearing for the 2023/24 season and another competitive campaign in the SEC.