Why this offseason is critical for Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats | Goodbread
A roster rebuild? Nate Oats has done it time and again.
A staff rebuild? That's fairly new territory.
Both tasks carry plenty of importance as Alabama's basketball coach enters his fifth year. But unlike last offseason, when the transfer portal, graduation and the NBA Draft conspired to strip the roster down to just four returning players who'd played regularly, this time Oats has to address a gutted coaching staff before he can turn to the business of roster turnover.
Two-thirds of a coaching staff that had been with Oats since his arrival at Alabama is gone, with assistants Bryan Hodgson and Charlie Henry taking head coaching jobs at Arkansas State and Georgia Southern, respectively. Hodgson, in fact, had been with Oats for eight consecutive years, counting four more at Buffalo. And it was Hodgson who was the primary recruiter for most of the stellar recruiting class that just led the most impressive regular season in school history. Longtime UA assistant and former Crimson Tide point guard Antoine Pettway remains, but this is more upheaval than Oats is used to.
If the trajectory of Alabama's on-floor success is to continue pointing North, Oats needs a couple of slam-dunk hires before delving into the comings and goings of players.
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That process begins this week when Oats attends the National Association of Basketball Coaches Convention, held in conjunction with the Final Four in Houston. It's quite the job market for coaches, and there would be no shortage of candidates for Oats to interview there. After four years at Alabama, he's built relationships that could send him in any direction for two new assistants, but it's worth noting that one of his former coaches at Buffalo who replaced him there, Jim Whitesell, was fired a week ago after four years. Jamie Quarles, who spent two years on Oats' Buffalo staff, is available as well.
Whomever Oats lands, another significant roster rebuild comes next.
Following UA's Sweet 16 loss to San Diego State, Oats and star freshman Brandon Miller hinted ominously at the pending breakup, with Oats saying the players would be "close for life," and Miller mentioning their future participation in one another's weddings.
Alabama probably won't endure as many outgoing transfers as it did a year ago − after a 31-6 season, it's is now a more attractive place to stay − but from a production standpoint, it could take as much of a hit as the coaching staff. Miller's status as a high-end pick in the NBA Draft makes his exit all but certain. It would be nearly as surprising if freshman Noah Clowney returns, as his draft stock has done nothing but climb. Then there's point guard Jahvon Quinerly, who intended to leave Alabama a year ago before a torn ACL put him in the position of having to prove his recovery. He's got one more season of eligibility if he wants it, but if Quinerly had planned to bolt previously, it's very difficult to imagine him returning again, regardless of NIL opportunities, after a season in which he rediscovered his 3-pointer and cut down on his turnovers.
Guards Jaden Bradley and Mark Sears, along with bigs Charles Bediako and Nick Pringle, would give Oats' 2023-24 team a strong core, if all return. Guard Nimari Burnett started the portal party on Tuesday.
But Oats has two key seats to fill first and foremost.
And neither of them are for players.
Reach Chase Goodbread at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @chasegoodbread.
This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Why this offseason is critical for Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats