This is big news for Nate Oats as he prepares for his first season. In my opinion, Kira, a member of the SEC All-Freshman team, was the top returning player on the roster. Based on his skill set, Kira should thrive in Oats' system. John Petty, who also entered the transfer portal and elected to return, is no worse than the second-best returning player. To get both of these guys back is huge. A successful first season for Oats in Tuscaloosa is now very possible.
In other news:
1] Nate Oats finished fourth place in AP Coach of the Year voting after he led Buffalo to the best season in school history with a 32-4 record and a top 25 KenPom finish.
2] The coaching staff is also taking shape. Nate Oats has brought assistant Bryan Hodgson from Buffalo to join the staff. Hodgson has a reputation as being an elite recruiter and many Buffalo fans were lobbying for him to get the head job after Oats left.
Antoine Pettway will also remain on staff. This will be the fourth Alabama head coach Pett will be an assistant for. Antoine has also become known for his recruiting prowess, and I imagine that was key in the decision to retain him.
The third assistant coach Oats has hired is Charlie Henry. Prior to coming to Alabama, Henry was the head coach for the G-League Windy City Bulls. Henry got his coaching start with Oats at Romulus High School in Detroit. Henry then went on to join Fred Hoiberg at Iowa State. Early reports were that Henry would rejoin Hoiberg at Nebraska, but it appears that Oats was able to convince him to come to Alabama.
Oats has also hired Mike Snowden, his strength and conditioning coach in Buffalo, to fill the same role in Tuscaloosa. I really like this staff so far. Obviously, we have to see how it plays out on the court, but I think Oats has done all of the right things so far into his tenure.
3] John Pelphrey has been hired as the new head coach at Tennessee Tech. In my opinion, Coach Pelphrey did a great job in his role at Alabama and is deserving of another shot to lead a program. Best of luck to him and his family as they begin a new chapter.
4] It's the time of the season for loving....and transfers. CBS' Jon Rothstein tweeted that Haanif Cheatham, a grad transfer from Florida Gulf Coast is planning to visit Alabama. Cheatham is a 6'5, 195 lb guard. Cheatham's 18-19 stats: 13.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.2 spg, 45.4 FG%, 36.4% 3pt%.
Another grad transfer that could be considering Alabama is West Virginia's James Bolden, a 6'0, 175 lb guard. I'm considering him a grad transfer because he's expected to graduate this summer. He only played in 18 games this season due to injury. His 18-19 stats: 12.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.1 spg, 40.9 FG%, 34.9 3-PT%. It should be noted he had an average of 43% from the 3-point line in his first two seasons in West Virginia so he's capable of better shooting numbers than this past season. The scuttlebutt is he will be in Tuscaloosa this weekend for a visit.
5] In fact, there will be quite a few visitors in town this weekend.
The staff seems to be cooking up something big this weekend. Raymond Hawkins & Jaylen Forbes both in town. Juwan Gary and Beetle Bolden both hinting they'll be in town as well.— Alabama Roundball (@BamaRoundball) April 8, 2019
6] Last, but certainly not least, Alabama has offered Dior Johnson, a 6'3, 160 lb guard in the class of 2022. Johnson, a New York native, is currently playing at Findlay Prep in Nevada. This is the same school that recent commit, Raymond Hawkins, attended.
Blessed to announce I’ve received an offer from Alabama University ! #ROLLTIDE🔴⚪️ pic.twitter.com/LHLbCKLkNN— Dior ★ (@3Diorjohnson) April 6, 2019