Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats on player additions and roster management: 'A good problem to have'
Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats said Wednesday that the addition of three new players, including two transfers, would improve the 2021-22 Crimson Tide and that managing a roster that is still one player over the NCAA scholarship limit was “a good problem to have.”
“We feel like we handled it right last year, and we’ve earned the right to let it play out,” Oats said. “It’s not fun all the time. Sometimes those are tough conversations to have. But we feel like last year, we were honest with our guys, and some of them ended up in better situations in terms of playing time.”
Alabama had four players transfer after last season – Galin Smith to Maryland, Jalen Forbes to Tulane, Javian Davis to Mississippi State and Raymond Hawkins to Long Beach State. It also had the expected departure of Kira Lewis Jr. for the NBA Draft and still ended up with a 13-player roster at the start of the season. This year, Alabama has had one signee, Langston Wilson of Georgia Highlands Junior College, request a release from the national letter of intent he signed in November.
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In addition to its two remaining high school signees from November, two-time Alabama Mr. Basketball J.D. Davison and small forward Jusuan Holt, Alabama officially added three players Wednesday, with Oats commenting on each.
On 6-foot-11 freshman Charles Bediako of IMG Academy: “He’ll give us a little bit different big man than maybe what we played with this year, especially around the rim.”
On 6-5 sophomore Nimari Burnett from Texas Tech: “We recruited him really hard out of high school and developed a great relationship with him and his parents. When we didn’t sign him initially, I thought we handled it correctly. They followed back up. They watched us play a lot. They let us know they enjoyed watching us play. I think he’s going to be great in our system, although he knows he’s going to have to work for every minute.”
On 6-8 junior Noah Gurley from Furman: “We played him twice and didn’t have an answer for him, so we were pretty fired up when we saw his name in the portal. He is a versatile big that can play multiple positions and really shoot the ball.”
Oats said he expects at least a couple of current players to go through the NBA evaluation process and dismissed persistent rumors that seniors from last season’s NCAA Sweet 16 team might consider returning for a COVID-related extra year.
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