When it rains, it pours, and there wasn’t much anyone could do to stop the bad news from flooding the Alabama Crimson Tide men’s basketball program the last few days. Then, athletic director Greg Byrne cleared the air with an unexpected coaching hire.
On Wednesday afternoon, the same day several Crimson Tide players entered the NCAA Transfer Portal, Byrne announced that former Buffalo Bulls head coach Nate Oats will take over the program and replace Avery Johnson after four years at the helm.
Boom. That was fast.
With star players such as point guard Kira Lewis Jr. and shooting guard John Petty looking at the possibility of transferring out the program, Byrne likely had to do something rather quickly, and he pulled it off by landing one of college basketball’s mid-major stud coaches.
A Watertown, Wisconsin native, the 44-year-old Oats arrives in Tuscaloosa after a successful four-year run with the University at Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference, compiling a 97-43 record after taking over for his mentor, Bobby Hurley, who is now the head coach at Arizona State.
Under his watch, Coach Oats, who also had a successful career as a high school coach, led the Bulls to three MAC Tournament championships and the last two MAC regular season titles. He was named the MAC Coach of the Year each of the last two seasons as well.
Buffalo went 1-1 in this year’s NCAA Tournament as the No. 6-seed in the West Region, beating No. 11 Arizona State before losing to No. 3 Texas Tech in the second round.
After days of speculation, with fans throwing out names like Iowa State’s Steve Prohm, Oklahoma City Thunder’s Billy Dovovan, former Ohio State coach Thad Matta, and even Rick Pitino, all of the questions have been answered at the University of Alabama.
Buffalo’s Nate Oats is the next men’s basketball coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide and now it’s up to him to make sure his best players stay so he doesn’t have to hit the full reset button on the program for next season.
Welcome to the future of Alabama Basketball.