Alabama basketball remained in the top 25 in Sports Illustrated’s latest preseason rankings released Saturday. The Crimson Tide dropped down to No. 23 after coming in at No. 12 in Sports Illustrated’s way-too-early top 25 in April. The latest rankings were updated to reflect recent transfer additions and draft decisions.
Alabama added two transfers this offseason in Ohio guard Mark Sears and St. Bonaventure guard Dominick Welch. The Crimson Tide also brought in a five-man signing class featuring four SI99 members in small forward Brandon Miller, point guard Jaden Bradley, forward Noah Clowney and shooting guard Rylan Griffen as well as highly-rated JUCO forward Nick Pringle.
Alabama will be without three of its top four scorers from last season as Jaden Shackelford, Keon Ellis and J.D. Davison, who elected to pursue professional careers. The Crimson Tide also lost five players to the transfer portal in Keon Ambrose-Hylton (SMU), Jusaun Holt Georgia) Juway Gary (Nebraska), James Rojas (Wichita State) and Alex Tchikou (undecided).
Alabama returns five players from last season’s team in forwards Charles Bediako, Noah Gurley and Darius Miles as well as guards Nimari Burnett and Jahvon Quinerly. The Crimson Tide still has room for one more scholarship player. However, head coach Nate Oats recently said he is not currently planning on filling that spot.
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“We’ve got the one open scholarship that, as of right now, we’re not gonna fill it,” Oats told WVTM 13 News. “But it’s still there if we happen to stumble upon something that makes a lot of sense. But the 12 guys we’ve got are who we plan on rolling with, and I like them a lot. We’ve two weeks of skill instruction with them, and we’ve got a good team.
“Some of the new guys are gonna be really good. You guys are gonna love watching them play. We’ve got 12 really good players, and I like where we’re at. If we happen to come across a 13th, we may fill it, but as of right now, I wouldn’t plan on filling it.”
Alabama is one of five SEC schools listed in Sports Illustrated’s updated rankings along with No. 4 Kentucky, No. 5 Arkansas, No. 11 Tennessee and No. 16 Auburn.
Here’s what Sports Illustrated’s Kevin Sweeney said about the Crimson Tide:
“The Crimson Tide’s uneven 2021–22 can be attributed to poor decision-making and three-point shooting, but a talented crop of newcomers could help turn that around this season. Ohio transfer Mark Sears was one of the best point guards on the board, and he’ll be the engine of one of the fastest-paced attacks in the country. Between Sears, Jahvon Quinerly and Jaden Bradley, Nate Oats has a deep stable of ballhandlers to work with. Wings like Dominick Welch and Darius Miles also help make this team fairly positionless.”
Alabama basketball’s incoming players
No. 0 — Jaden Bradley
Quote from Oats: “Jaden is the No. 1 point guard in the nation, and it was huge for us that we got his commitment first. There are a lot of other good players who want to play with an unselfish, pass-first point guard like Jaden. We think he is next in the line of great point guards since we’ve been here at Alabama following in Kira Lewis Jr., Jahvon Quinerly and JD Davison’s footsteps. Jaden is a proven winner and that is something that is important to us during recruiting, not just getting talented players. He comes from a great family and we are really excited to have him a part of our program for numerous reasons.”
No. 1 — Mark Sears
Quote from Oats: “We are excited to welcome Mark and his family to the Alabama basketball program. Our entire staff felt like Mark was one of the best overall guards available in the transfer portal, so we really went after him hard. He is a high character kid with great basketball feel who is a perfect fit for the way we want to play. He shoots the ball really well, he’s a great decision-maker and is terrific in transition. On top of that, Mark is an Alabama kid who is excited to come back to his home state and play in front of family and friends. I think our fans will have a lot of fun watching him next season and he is a big addition for us.”
No. 3 — Rylan Griffen
Quote from Oats: “Rylan is a very talented scoring guard. We feel he has a high ceiling and by playing in our system he will be able to maximize his potential. We like long, athletic shooters like Rylan who has proved he has the ability to score at a high clip this last summer. He is also a proven winner coming from Richardson High School, a program that consistently wins at a high level and is considered one of the top teams in Texas this year.”
No. 10 — Dominick Welch
Quote from Oats: “Dom is originally from Buffalo, so we were able to make an immediate connection. He is also someone who is going to come in and earn his playing time. He’s a four-year starter and has had a lot of success both from a team and an individual standpoint. He has impacted winning in a big way, helping St. Bonaventure to 76 wins in the last four years which shows that he cares about doing what needs to be done to help his team win.
“Combine all those factors with the fact that Dom is a terrific young man off the court, we feel he is the perfect fit for what our program needed.”
No. 15 — Noah Clowney
Quote from Oats: “Noah is a skilled big with size and the ability to stretch the floor with his shooting. He is a great athlete with a lot of upside. He plays for one of the top programs in the state of South Carolina and we place a lot of value on that. Noah is going to be a good fit in our system. He has the ability to play inside-outside, take guys off the dribble and can play with his back to the basket.”
No. 23 — Nick Pringle
Quote from Oats: “We are very excited to sign such an athletic and skilled big man like Nick. He already has college experience both at the D-I and junior college levels. We have a history of success with junior college players here, particularly finding ones who may have flown under the radar, similar to James Rojas and Keon Ellis. We think he gives us a different dimension in the frontcourt. He may be the most versatile and athletic forward in all of junior college basketball right now. We are looking forward to adding an experienced frontcourt player to the roster next season.”
No. 24 — Brandon Miller
Quote from Oats: “Brandon is a very talented and versatile player. I don’t think you can put a position on him and we feel he is one of the best pro prospects in the entire class. We are really excited to get him in our system and see what he can do. He is a 6-9 basketball player that can do everything. We’ve recruited him for a long time and have gotten to know him and his family well. We are beyond excited to get a player of his caliber in our program.”