Projecting Alabama basketball’s starting five for 2022-23 season

Before we turn our attention to the 2022 NBA Draft – set to take place Thursday, June 23 – we take a look at Alabama basketball’s roster for the 2022-23 season, which appears set.

“We’ve got the one open scholarship that, as of right now, we’re not gonna fill it,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said. “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.”

With the roster featuring five returning players, five members of the nation’s No. 3 signing class and two veteran transfers, we give an early projection of the Crimson Tide’s starting lineup.

POINT GUARD

Project starter: Mark Sears

Top challenges: Jaden Bradley, *Jahvon Quinerly

Alabama lost JD Davison to the NBA draft but welcomed back Quinerly, who appeared to be on his way to a pro career, as well, before suffering an ACL injury in the final game of the 2021-22 season and returning to Tuscaloosa. But he isn’t expected to be ready for Game 1, which is why the addition of Sears is a significant one. The Ohio transfer averaged 19.7 points per game and shot 44.3 percent from the floor (40.8 percent from three) before entering the transfer portal. He should make an immediate impact at the point guard position. The Tide also added Bradley, a former 5-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American out of IMG Academy, who will challenge his older teammates while – in this projection – providing quality depth at the one.

SHOOTING GUARD

Project starter: Nimari Burnett

Top challenger: Rylan Griffen

The leading scorer each of the last two years, Jaden Shackelford, kept his name in the draft, while Jusuan Holt transferred to Georgia. Therefore, the two-spot will look a lot different once the season starts, but our projected starter here is a player that has, at least, been in the UA program. Burnett missed all of last year after suffering a knee injury during the offseason. Oats said Burnett should be able to do live, 5-on-5 drills by the end of the summer. Whenever he is fully healthy, the Texas Tech transfer should give the tide a boost offensively, as the coaching staff believes he will be one of the best shooters in the nation. Griffen is also a talented scorer and should make a positive contribution to the team in his first season at the college level.

SMALL FORWARD

Project starter: Brandon Miller

Top challenges: Dominick Welch, Darius Miles

Keon Ellis started all 33 games a season ago, mostly at the three, and is expected to hear his name called Thursday night. Juwan Gary also moved on, transferring to Nebraska. Miles is back for Year 3 and should continue to see minutes with more experience and maturity, but one of the many newcomers gets the nod here in Miller. Rated one of the nation’s top recruits for the 2022 cycle and tabbed a McDonald’s All-American, the freshman is “one of the best pro prospects in the entire class,” according to Oats. We also considered slotting Miller at the four, given his size and versatility, and starting Welch at the three. The St. Bonaventure transfer will be a grad student, so he brings plenty of experience to the table, but he can also score.

POWER FORWARD

Project starter: Noah Gurley

Top challenger: Noah Clowney

Here’s the first familiar name on the starting line. Gurley played in all 33 games last season, his first at Alabama after transferring from Furman, scored double-digit points seven times and had nine games in which he led the Crimson Tide in blocks. He chose to return for another year, and Oats expects the grad student to be better after being at UA and playing a full season in the SEC. He will look to improve his rebounding this offseason and could prove to be a 40-percent shooter in Year 2, per Oats, in addition to being one of the top leaders now that he’s comfortable. Again, Miller could also see minutes here, as could a couple of other newcomers in Clowney, as well as junior college transfer Nick Pringle (more on him in just a little bit).

CENTER

Project starter: Charles Bediako

Top challenger: Nick Pringle

The easiest spot to predict in this lineup, Bediako is back after starting 30-of-33 games as a true freshman last year. He earned SEC All-Freshman Team honors after finishing with a team-high 51 blocks on the year and his 1.6 blocks-per-game average was fifth-best in the SEC. He closed out the season with four games of five or more blocks, including a career-best six blocks in a game on two separate occasions, and shot 77.8 percent from the floor (42-of-54) over the Tide’s final 14 contests. If he spends time with new strength coach Henry Barrera, Bediako could take a major step between Years 1 and 2. He’s the only true center on the roster and won’t have a veteran like James Rojas – now at Wichita State – to push him in practice.

Did you know that BOL has a podcast? The BamaOnLine Podcast brings you the latest Alabama news and insight from Travis Reier, Charlie Potter, Hank South and Tim Watts. Catch the latest episode right here or subscribe on iTunes today!

Contact Charlie Potter by personal message or on Twitter (@Charlie_Potter).