Nate Oats confirms positive COVID-19 test in July as Alabama basketball opens practice

Cecil Hurt
The Tuscaloosa News
Alabama Head Coach Nate Oats watches his team work during practice for the Alabama men's basketball team Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

University of Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats said on his opening-of-practice media Zoom call Thursday that he tested positive for coronavirus in July but is now negative.

Alabama released no information on Oats’ condition at the time he says he was positive. 

"I wouldn't have known I was sick unless they were testing healthy people,” Oats said. "I had a dull headache for a few days that I worked through."

Oats said he had no contact with players until he had tested negative and received medical clearance. He said all 13 players on the Alabama roster were available Thursday when Alabama opened practice. 

Alabama has been projected as an NCAA Tournament team by several analysts. Herb Jones, John Petty and Alex Reese return for their senior seasons and are joined in the senior class by graduate transfer Jordan Bruner, an All-Ivy League forward at Yale for the past two seasons.

"Herb has been working his tail off the entire offseason,” Oats said of Jones, a member of the SEC All-Defensive Team last season. “Offensively he wasn't ready for the NBA (last season). His work in the gym this summer and fall will determine whether he makes millions of dollars or not."

Alabama also expects to be buoyed by the addition of point guard Jahvon Quinerly, a former McDonald’s All-American who sat out last season after transferring from Villanova. 

"JQ is who he is and does what he does,” Oats said. “(Josh) Primo (a five-star freshman recruit from Canada) is a 6-6 combo guard that can play the point, he's great at it. Herb can do it. Those three have been key factors. Primo has been a little bit injured, just a little minor injury, but he has been out three weeks."

Oats said Alabama has a tentative nine-game nonconference schedule set, including three games in the Maui Invitational (now moved to Asheville, North Carolina), one against an opponent to be announced in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge in January, three “buy games” and a previously-announced December game against Clemson in Atlanta.

The Crimson Tide finished 16-15 last season. The season ended due to coronavirus precautions as UA was in its locker room awaiting an SEC Tournament contest against Tennessee. 

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