Alabama Basketball: Crimson Tide carried by newcomers

After yesterday’s drubbing of the Kentucky Wildcats, there is no longer a question as to the legitimacy of the Alabama basketball team. Alabama is cohesive, focused, and clearly one of the nation’s top college basketball teams.

The job being done by coach Nate Oats and the Crimson Tide is made even more impressive by the fact that the team is led in large part by players that weren’t on campus last season.

Alabama’s tremendous four-man freshman class is arguably the best collection of rookies in the country. Brandon Miller is the obvious headliner, as the 6’9” sharpshooting wing is flirting with first-team All-American status. Barely two months into his freshman season, Miller has had both incredible games and jaw-dropping moments.

He currently leads the SEC in scoring at 19.1 points per game, and his three-point shooting percentage of 43.5 ranks second in the conference. Miller also averages 8.5 rebounds per game, good for third in the SEC and tied for first among SEC freshmen.

Which fellow SEC freshman is he tied with? Teammate Noah Clowney, who is one of the best energy bigs in college basketball. The 6’10” Clowney is averaging 9.6 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game.

For a player whose impact goes far beyond the stat sheet, these are impressive figures. Clowney flirts with double-doubles nearly every game, protects the rim, and can also stretch the floor out to the three-point line.

Point guard Jaden Bradley is one of the unsung heroes of the Alabama basketball team, frequently making winning plays that may not always draw recognition. Bradley is averaging 8.9 points, 3.7 assists, and 3.1 rebounds per game.

He is an athletic slasher that is at his best when driving downhill. He also moves the ball very well within the Crimson Tide offense, regularly making the right pass over the flashy pass. Bradley’s greatest asset might be his perimeter defense. He approaches the game with a bulldog-like mentality and makes life difficult for anyone he guards.

Junior guard Mark Sears, a transfer from Ohio, has also been an invaluable addition to this team. With incumbent starting point guard Jahvon Quinerly working back from an ACL injury suffered in March, Sears and Bradley have ensured that the Crimson Tide didn’t miss a beat. Sears brings leadership, experience, toughness, ball-handling, and perimeter shooting to the Alabama backcourt.

Sears entered the season as an unknown commodity, transferring from the mid-major level to the SEC. He has quickly established himself as one of the conference’s best guards, averaging 14.7 points per game and shooting well over 40 percent from the three-point line.

Other newcomers that have made notable contributions are freshman wing Rylan Griffen and JUCO transfer Nick Pringle, an uber-athletic reserve big.

Alabama basketball experienced massive roster turnover in the 2022 offseason. Normally, this can make it difficult to construct a synergistic team, but it has worked in the Crimson Tide’s favor in this case.