Alabama basketball has hole at center following Bediako’s declaration
By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Peyton Davis
University of Alabama men’s basketball center Charles Bediako announced Monday night that he will forego his junior year and declare for next month’s NBA Draft. The news came as a surprise, given Bediako was just coming into his own, but he clearly got a sense that he is valued in NBA circles based off this decision.
The 6-foot 10-inch Canadian center was the anchor of one of college basketball’s top defenses in 2022. He started all 37 games for the Tide, averaging 6.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks on 66% from the field. He was one of the primary reasons for Alabama leading the nation in opponents 2-point field goal percentage as well as top five in defensive efficiency, and in tournament play for both the SEC and NCAA, he solidified himself as one of the nations top rim protectors and interior forces – scoring double figures in five of the last six games for the Tide.
This announcement means Alabama will have to replace its entire starting front court with freshmen forwards Brandon Miller and Noah Clowney both declaring shortly after the season’s end. As of now, both Jahvon Quinerly and Mark Sears both are still in the draft pool but have until May 31 to withdraw names and return to Alabama.
The front court looks to be a major concern for Nate Oats’s group for next season, with the 6-foot 9-inch fan favorite Nick Pringle being the only center securely on the roster and incoming four star freshmen Sam Walters and Mouhamed Dioubate both being above 6-foot 7-inch, however the group is clearly thin. Wichita State forward Jaykwon Walton was enrolled to transfer to Alabama, but was released following an arrest last month where he was charged with second-degree possession of marijuana in Tuscaloosa, adding to the blow of the Bediako announcement to the teams depth.
Last year’s No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament has taken additional hits through the transfer portal, as guards Nmari Burnett (Michigan) and Jayden Bradley (Arizona) are two more rotational players Oats will look to replace. However, commitments from Hofstra senior Aaron Estrada and Cal State Fullerton junior Latrell Wrightsell help the backcourt situation for the Tide, who hope to get one if not both of Sears and Quinerly back from the draft pool by next week.
Following these hits to the roster, Alabama has dropped out of the top 15 in most major polls, and many project them to finish outside the top three in the conference in 2023. There is still a long way until fall camp for this squad, and plenty of time and players left in the portal that Oats could pursue, but for now – the program looks to be caught off guard by Bediako’s departure and will have to pivot quickly to other options in the coming months.