University of Alabama men’s basketball coach Nate Oats said in a Monday telephone interview that he was “flattered” by reports listing him as a possible candidate for the new job vacancy at the University of Michigan but indicated that the timing — less than two months after accepting the Alabama job — was not right.
“I firmly believe in God’s hand in guiding our lives,” Oats told TideSports. “If I was meant to be at Michigan, the job would have come open two months ago. So I believe there is a reason why I am at Alabama.
“Michigan is a great job and they will get a great coach. But there is no reason that Alabama cannot be a great job. That’s what I want to build. It makes sense that there would be speculation because I coached in that state for 11 years (as a high school coach in the Detroit area) but I am meant to be here (at Alabama),” he added.
Earlier on Monday, Oats replied via text message to queries about the Michigan vacancy, which occurred when Wolverine coach John Beilein was announced as the new head coach of the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers.
“We love it at Alabama,” he said via text message. “Completely focused on our job there and getting our family moved down there. I hope my former assistant at Romulus, Saddi Washington, who’s been with Beilein the longest at Michigan gets a shot at the job. Roll Tide.”
Oats also confirmed on Monday that he has signed his contract with Alabama. That contract calls for an $8 million buyout due to UA if Oats accepts another job prior to 2020.
Alabama continues to shape its roster for the upcoming 2019-2020 season. Oats could not discuss specific recruits but indicated that UA was still hoping to add at least one player.
One possibility is Howard University transfer R.J. Cole, who visited Tuscaloosa during the first weekend of May. Cole is expected to visit Connecticut this week and choose between the Crimson Tide and Huskies following that visit.
UA has also been connected with junior college forward James Rojas, a former Buffalo commitment, and forward Trendon Watford of Mountain Brook. Watford is also strongly considering LSU and Memphis.
Oats has added two players — forward Raymond Hawkins of Oakland, Cal., and grad transfer guard Beetle Bolden from West Virginia. Alabama also retained three players who signed with former coach Avery Johnson last November — guard Jalen Shackleford of Hesperia, Cal., guard Jaylen Forbes of Florence, Miss. and forward Rashaun Gary of Columbia, S.C. All three have been approved for enrollment by the NCAA Clearinghouse, according to a source with knowledge of their status.
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