Alabama basketball’s 2022 team outlook could be Nate Oats’ biggest challenge
By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Jeremy Bryant
Alabama basketball lost to Notre Dame in their opening-round matchup in the NCAA tournament, but that gut punch is no longer the low point in their season.
Now, the Tide’s roster is in a heated battle with the transfer portal.
Since the end of the season, seven players have entered the portal. Less than a month removed from their tournament loss, only eight players remain on the roster, with more potentially leaving.
Keon Ellis and Jaden Shackleford declared for the NBA draft, and many expect J.D. Davison to do the same. Jahvon Quinerly has not entered the draft, but he’s mulling his future plans after announcing he won’t be returning to the Tide.
If Davison does leave for the NBA, the team must quickly solidify who will be the next set of leaders in the backcourt. The past few Tide teams were built around great guard play after being spoiled by the talents of Quinerly, Shackleford and former SEC co-freshman of the year Collin Sexton.
The frontcourt took the hardest hit, and the team has to fill the slots behind their starting power forward and center positions. After seeing their minutes diminish, Alex Tchikou and Keon Amrbose-Hylton decided their talents would be more useful elsewhere.
A few surprising departures came when James Rojas and Juwan Gary entered the portal after they became key rotational pieces for the Tide in the final stretch of the season.
They were asked to provide great minutes of hustle and rebounding, but the bulk of their season was plagued by injuries. Rojas played in 16 games after a torn ACL, and Gary played through the latter part of the season with a protective face mask after suffering a face contusion against LSU.
Others who saw few minutes during the season and are leaving include Jusaun Holt, Britton Johnson and Jaden Quinerly.
Turnover has been mighty for the team, but reinforcements may be on the way with the N0.3-ranked 2022 recruiting class, including 5-star prospects Jaden Bradley and Brandon Miller. The Tide also recently signed top transfer point guard Mark Sears.
The Crimson Tide had a confusing season. They beat Top-10 ranked opponents including Gonzaga and Baylor, but dropped the ball against unranked opponents including Georgia and Vanderbilt.
The inability to form a free-flowing offense became a problem for the team when defenses allowed Alabama players to play isolation basketball and force them into bad shot selections.
Head coach Nate Oats will need to create more team chemistry to avoid a repeat of last season, but the team must get its inexperienced core up to speed fast.