Why Alabama basketball, Nate Oats are in a new era of assistant coaching
Few coaches have been as busy this offseason as Alabama basketball's Nate Oats.
He not only has had to deal with the roster turnover frequent in today's college basketball with the transfer portal and NIL, but Oats also has had the rare opportunity of replacing all three assistant coaches.
Charlie Henry? Gone to Georgia Southern. Bryan Hodgson? Gone to Arkansas State. Antoine Pettway? Gone to Kennesaw State. All three accepted head coaching jobs.
Four seasons into his tenure in Tuscaloosa, Oats never had to replace an assistant coach. Then, in a matter of a couple weeks, he had to replace them all.
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This scenario likely won't repeat itself, but it's also not likely he keeps all three of his new assistants for the next four seasons. Turnover can often be seen as a bad thing, but if it's because of career advancement, that reflects well on Oats and the program he is building.
The Alabama assistant roles could be viewed as launching points. Want to advance in your coaching career? Succeed at Alabama under Nate Oats, and you will.
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Austin Claunch and Ryan Pannone clearly received that message. Others will note the same down the road.
Some interpreted the exodus as bad for the Crimson Tide. But if that were the case, Oats wouldn't have added this caliber of coaches.
Claunch was the head coach for a Division I program at Nicholls in Louisiana, and a successful one at that. He finished 90-61 over five seasons and led the Colonels to Southland Conference regular-season championships in 2020-21 and 2021-22.
Pannone was a New Orleans Pelicans assistant coach and previously head coach of the Erie Bayhawks/Birmingham Squadron, the NBA G League affiliate of the Pelicans, from 2019-2022. Pannone has coaching stops all over the world at different levels.
Both Claunch and Pannone wanted to be Alabama basketball assistants. That speaks volumes about the jobs and how they are viewed in the industry. Succeed for a couple seasons in Tuscaloosa, and both will likely be head coaches in good college jobs quickly, if they want them.
If that happens, it won't go unnoticed. And it will lead to Alabama having strong candidates for future assistant coach openings.
Oats has yet to officially hire a third assistant coach, but that should happen soon. No matter whom it is, that individual will likely see this job as more appealing than it was four seasons ago when Oats arrived.
The more coaches who stop in Tuscaloosa en route to head coaching jobs, the more others will want to stop too. Maybe they won't stay for long, but that's OK. Oats should have good options to replace them. Plus, it's always good when assistants know having Alabama on your resume is a big help.
Look no further than Alabama football.
Oats finds himself in a new era of his program, and having in-demand assistant coaches is the latest step as Alabama gains national prominence in men's basketball.
Nick Kelly covers Alabama football and men's basketball for The Tuscaloosa News/USA TODAY Network. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly