Breaking down Alabama basketball's roster for the 2021-22 season
Alabama basketball is reshuffling its roster for a second straight offseason. Sunday capped off a busy week for the Crimson Tide as it added its third addition to next year’s squad in Furman transfer Noah Gurely. Earlier in the week, the Tide received commitments from Texas Tech transfer Nimari Burnett and four-star recruit Charles Bediako.
The transition continued Monday as four-star forward signee Langston Wilson asked to be released from his national letter of intent. Excluding Wilson, Alabama is set to add five new additions this offseason as Gurley, Burnett and Bediako will be joined by five-star guard JD Davison and four-star forward Jusuan Holt. The Tide will lose four scholarship players from last season’s team in SEC player of the year Herbert Jones as well as John Petty Jr., Alex Reese and Jordan Bruner.
Assuming Wilson parts ways with Alabama, the Tide will still be one over the NCAA scholarship limit of 13, meaning it will need another player to transfer from the program to make room for the new additions. Here’s a look at Alabama’s current 14 scholarship players after its busy start to the offseason.
Returning players (9)
Keon Ambrose-Hylton — 6-foot-8, 210 pounds, sophomore: After coming to Alabama as the No. 108 player in the 2020 class, Ambrose-Hylton did not feature much last season. The four-star forward averaged 1.1 points and 0.7 rebounds while shooting 66.7 percent from the floor over 3.9 minutes per game in 19 appearances. At the moment, Ambrose is still fairly raw and is somewhat of a project at the college level. In order to make it at Alabama, he’ll need to improve his 3-point shot to fit into Nate Oats’ offense, but he has the tools to eventually develop into a contributor. He is one of three Canadian players on the Tide’s roster and previously played alongside current Alabama teammates Joshua Primo and Charles Bediako at the AAU level.
Keon Ellis — 6-foot-6, 170 pounds, senior: Keon Ellis is the quintessential Oats-style player, contributing on both ends of the court while posing as a threat from beyond the arc. After transferring to Alabama from Florida SouthWestern State College last season, the athletic wing averaged 5.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals while shooting 50.4 percent from the floor and 38.9 percent from beyond the arc over 17.5 minutes per game. He made seven starts, including each of the Tide’s games in the NCAA tournament. Given his experience and defensive ability, Ellis is a strong candidate to lock down a starting role in his second season with the Tide.
Juwan Gary — 6-foot-6, 218 pounds, redshirt sophomore: After missing the entirety of his first season with a torn ACL in 2019-20, Gary was a solid option off the bench for Alabama. He averaged 3.8 points and 2.8 rebounds while shooting 53.9 percent from the floor over 9.4 minutes per game. The athletic forward also served as one of the Tide’s better defensive players. Gary offers a bit more muscle than Ellis and could get the nod for a starting spot especially when Alabama needs more size on the floor.
Darius Miles — 6-foot-6, 185 pounds, sophomore: Miles didn’t receive much action after arriving at Alabama as the No. 121 overall player in last year’s recruiting class. During his freshman season, the athletic lefty appeared in 17 of the Tide’s 33 games, averaging 2.2 points and 0.9 rebounds while shooting 41.4 percent from the floor and 35 percent from beyond the arc over 4.3 minutes per game. Miles will need to improve on his playmaking ability, but he offers nice vertical athleticism and can provide a scoring punch off the bench.
Joshua Primo — 6-foot-6, 190 pounds, sophomore: The crown jewel of Alabama’s 2020 class, Primo reclassified to advance to the college level a year early last season. The 17-year-old provided an instant impact, earning SEC All-Freshman honors while carving out a starting role during his first season. Primo averaged 8.1 points and 3.4 rebounds while shooting 43.1 percent from the floor and 38.1 percent from beyond the arc over 22.4 minutes per game. He has the talent to propel himself to the NBA with a big sophomore season. However, to do so, he’ll need to show more consistency.
Jahvon Quinerly — 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, redshirt junior: Quinerly had to sit out his first season at Alabama in 2019-20 after failing to receive an eligibility waiver following his transfer from Villanova. The wait was well worth it as the former McDonald's All-American served as one of the Tide’s biggest contributors, shooting a team-high 43.3 percent from beyond the arc while averaging 12.9 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists. After beginning the season as Alabama’s starting point guard, Quinerly unselfishly took a role as Alabama’s sixth man off the bench midway through the season. He excelled at the change, earning MVP honors in the SEC tournament while closing out the year with 15 straight games in double-digit scoring. Despite his success off the bench, Quinerly’s experience might see him move back into a starting role this season.
James Rojas — 6-foot-8, 220 pounds, redshirt senior: Rojas sat out his first season at Alabama after suffering a torn ACL during the fall prior to the 2019-20 campaign. The former JUCO All-American experienced an up-and-down season, averaging 2.9 points and 2.6 rebounds while shooting 35 percent from the floor and 23.1 percent from beyond the arc over 11.1 minutes per game. Rojas made a few clutch shots for the Tide but faded toward the end of the season, failing to score in each of Alabama’s last four games while averaging 4.25 minutes per game over that span.
Jaden Shackelford — 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, junior: Shackelford followed up a breakout freshman season by earning second-team All-SEC honors. The lefty scorer led the Tide averaging 14.0 points while also averaging 3.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists. Despite experiencing a few slumps, he shot 41 percent from the floor and 34.2 percent from beyond the arc. Shackelford’s biggest strides came on defense where he displayed more physicality while showing an increased willingness to take charges. Heading into his third season with the program, he should be one of Alabama’s leaders this season.
Alex Tchikou — 6-foot-11, 225 pounds, redshirt freshman: Tchikou was one of the most promising members of Alabama’s 2020 class. However, a torn Achilles prevented him from seeing the court during his first season on campus. The athletic big man appeared to put on some weight over the past year and could be in line for an impactful first season at the college level.
Incoming recruits (3)
Charles Bediako — 6-foot-11, 220 pounds, freshman: Bediako comes to Alabama as the No. 29 overall player and No. 4 center in this year’s class. The highly-rated four-star prospect has the potential to contribute right away as he’s already developed on the defensive side as one of the best rim-protectors in this year’s class. He’ll need some polishing on the offensive end and will look to add more bulk at the next level. However, he presents plenty for Alabama fans to be excited about over the next few years.
JD Davison — 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, freshman: Davison is Alabama’s highest-rated recruit since Collin Sexton in 2017, arriving at Alabama as the No. 13 overall player and No. 3 point guard in this year’s class. The Letohatchee Ala., native was named Mr. Basketball for the second straight year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association on Sunday after averaging 32.4 points, 10.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists as a senior. Davison can jump out of the gym and has already gone viral on a handful of highlight dunks at the high school level. That athleticism should translate over to Alabama as he figures to be one of the Tide’s most exciting players this season.
Jusaun Holt — 6-foot-5, 175 pounds, freshman: Holt has many of the features Oats looks for in his system. The athletic wing has the ability to guard multiple positions and has shown a nice stroke as a shooter. He’ll need to add to his frame at the next level but should have the time to do so as he doesn’t project to be an early contributor for the Tide this season.
Incoming transfers (2)
Nimari Burnett — 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, sophomore: Alabama pursued Burnett heavily during the 2020 cycle but ultimately lost out on the four-star guard as he signed with Texas Tech. However, Burnett’s lone season with the Red Raiders didn’t go to plan as he averaged 5.3 points and 1.8 rebounds over 12 games before leaving the program in January. The athletic guard figures to have more success in Oats’ fast-paced system and is projected to take on a significant role on this year’s team. In high school, Burnett was one of the nation’s top scorers earning McDonald’s All-American honors after averaging 25.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game during his senior season at Prolific Prep basketball academy in Napa, Calif.
Noah Gurley — 6-foot-8, 210 pounds, graduate: Gurley joins Alabama as a graduate transfer but will have two years of eligibility remaining. During his redshirt junior season at Furman last year, he averaged 15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.1 blocks while shooting 48.8 percent from the floor and 33.9 percent from beyond the arc. Alabama has had an up-close look at Gurley the past two seasons. The forward recorded 15 points and three rebounds during an 83-80 loss to Alabama in December after tallying 7 points and four rebounds during an 81-73 defeat in 2019. Gurley will compete for an instant starting role and should provide a much-needed veteran presence to the Tide’s young frontcourt.