Oats waiting on scheduling guidance from NCAA as Crimson Tide prepares l Hurt

Cecil Hurt
Tide Sports

TUSCALOOSA - Alabama men's basketball coach Nate Oats said Friday that he prefers a “full schedule” for the 2020-21 season but added that “we are all waiting on the NCAA to decide and we will go from there, I think.”

Oats said the Southeastern Conference coaches and league administrators had discussed various options ranging from a Nov. 10 start to a conference-only schedule beginning in December. A report in The Athletic on Thursday indicated that the NCAA men’s basketball oversight committee was leaning to one of two start dates: Nov. 25 and Dec. 4, with “a hard push” to go earlier and take advantage of vacated college campuses. The University of Alabama fall term will end at Thanksgiving, allowing a “bubble” atmosphere that could facilitate playing at Coleman Coliseum  

“I would like to play as many non-conference games as we can,” Oats said.

Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president of men’s basketball, said recently that he expected the committee to have a recommended start date to present for vote by the Division I Council in mid-September. The council would then have to approve the start date, but most likely would do so based on the oversight committee’s recommendation.

Regardless of the start date, most coaches and administrators expect some version of a season and an NCAA Tournament. Alabama is preparing for that path, Oats said.

“We are still doing more Zoom calls that practicing but we are able to get some time with them on the court,” he said.

That has included work with the Crimson Tide’s latest addition, 6-foot-11 Alex Tchikou.

“He is still learning the flow of the game,” Oats said of Tchikou  “He’s raw but he has a really really huge upside. He’s long and he’s been hitting 3’s. He is built like Donta Hall, a little taller, maybe not quite as explosive athletically but picture a Donta who can put the ball on the floor and shoot the 3-point shot.

”I’d say the (new) player who has been the most consistent has been (Josh) Primo,” Oats  said. “He works every day. He’ll be in the gym three times a day. Keon Eliis (a junior college transfer) has been really good offensively, probably our leading 3-point shooter so far. (Yale transfer Jordan) Bruner will help us. James Rojas, who is almost like a new player because he was injured all year last year, has had his best week. He is getting more comfortable with his knee and he really brings some toughness. I guess you could call (Jahvon) Quinerly new, too. He hasn’t been 100 percent but the last couple of days he’s looked like he looked last year (when he sat out an NCAA-imposed redshirt season) and that’s good.

“JP (John Petty) is still getting back in shape but here is one thing about him,” Oats said. “He has three years of SEC experience, even more (playing time) than Herb (Jones) has. There is a value to that. Not many other guys on the team has that understanding of what it takes.”

Oats said the coaches and team had discussed the recent protests and violence in the wake of a shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and the subsequent NBA players’ decision to stop the NBA playoffs temporarily in the wake of that incident. He said those discussion “remain within the team” on his part  but added that UA players had “his full support” in sharing their opinions if they chose to do so.

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or via Twitter @cecilhurt