There's no denying the University of Alabama is a football school first and foremost. Bear Bryant got the program off the ground more than 60 years ago and Nick Saban has built perhaps the greatest dynasty in sports history. You could say the Alabama Crimson Tide has had some success on the gridiron and few would argue.
But once football season ends, Alabama fans turn their attention to the hardwood. Comparing the basketball program to football is unfair. Actually, comparing pretty much any basketball program to Alabama's football program is unfair. That doesn't mean Crimson Tide fans are any less passionate about their hoops.
Over the years, Alabama has had some great runs, like C.M. Newton's teams winning three-straight regular season SEC championships from 1974 to 1976. Or upsetting No. 1 seed Stanford in the 2004 NCAA Tournament and reaching the Elite Eight. Now, head coach Nate Oats has the Tide going in the right direction and looks to be an SEC title contender for years to come.
From the days of Newton to David Hobbs to Avery Johnson to Oats, several great basketball players have played their hearts out at Coleman Coliseum. If we took players from all those eras and put together a staring lineup, they could give anyone a run for their money.
Let's take a gander at Alabama's all-time starting five.
Alabama Basketball's All-Time Starting 5
Guard: Colin Sexton (2017-18)
Colin Sexton only played one season in Tuscaloosa, but The "Young Bull" made his mark. In his lone college basketball campaign, Sexton's 19.2 points per game led the team in scoring. His best performance was a 27-point outing against Texas A&M in the SEC Tournament that was capped by a buzzer-beating floater.
The 2018 SEC Freshman of the Year was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the eighth-overall pick in the that year's NBA Draft. He's enjoyed a solid career in the pros so far by averaging a clean 19 points per contest through five seasons.
On top of his scoring ability, Sexton has the toughness and competitive edge you want in a floor general. I'm a big fan.
Guard: Latrell Sprewell (1990-92)
Latrell Sprewell turned himself into a highly-touted NBA prospect in his final season at Alabama. The shooting guard, along with Robert Horry and James Robinson, carried the Tide to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 1992. For the year, he averaged 17.8 points and 5.2 rebounds.
In the NBA, Sprewell quickly became one of the league's best young players, earning a First-Team All-NBA nod in second season. However, his career was derailed because he, uhh, choked in big moments. But at his peak, Sprewell was among the best hoopers on the planet.
Forward: Brandon Miller (2022-)
Six Alabama players have won SEC Player of the Year in the program's history. Freshman sensation Brandon Miller is the latest, as he's lived up to every bit of his hype. The 6-foot-9 forward is averaging 19.6 points per game, which leads the SEC. He's just the fourth player in the last 50 years to lead the conference in that category as a freshman. Alabama is expected to go far in the 2023 NCAA Tournament, and Brandon Miller is a big reason why.
Forward: Reggie King (1975-79)
— Cameron Luke Ratliff (@fluffopotamus88) October 4, 2020
The all-time scoring leader in Alabama program history, Reggie "The Mule" King was the driving force behind the Tide's three conference titles in the mid-1970s. The Birmingham native poured in 2,168 points during his collegiate career, a full 231 points ahead of Alabama's second all-time leading scorer, Eddie Philips. He also snagged 10.8 rebounds per game.
King only spent six seasons in the NBA with the Kansas City Kings and Seattle SuperSonics and was out of pro basketball by the time he was 29. Still, "The Mule" has a solid case as the best Crimson Tide hooper ever.
Center: Leon Douglas (1972-76)
Another vital contributor for the successful 'Bama teams of the '70s, Leon Douglas was a force to be reckoned with down low. Douglas made the All-SEC team in each of his four years on campus, winning SEC Player of the Year twice, along with receiving two All-American distinctions.
Douglas is third on the all-time scoring list and is tied for second in career rebounds with King. For his senior year, he averaged 20.6 points and 12.4 rebounds per game — the kind of production any coach would kill for.
The big man was the fourth-overall pick by the Detroit Pistons in the 1976 NBA Draft, but he only spent seven years in the league before embarking on a pro career in Europe. The tandem of Douglas and King was lethal.
Sixth Man, Forward: Robert Horry (1988-92)
Speaking of the early '90s, we can't leave off "Big Shot Bob."
Horry was an absolute stud for the Tide during his four years on campus. Sure, he could shoot, but he was a swat fiend and remains the program's all-time leader in blocks to this day.
Of course, Horry gained a notorious clutch reputation in the NBA as a member of seven (!) title teams with the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs. Put the rock in this man's hand with the game on the line and you won't be disappointed.
Off The Bench
- Eddie Philips (1978-82)
- Jerry Harper (1952-56)
- Buck Johnson (1982-86)
- James Robinson (1990-93)
- Trevor Releford (2010-14)
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