Crimson Tide guard Sears declares for NBA draft

Alabama’s roster and staff turnover following its historic men’s basketball season continued Saturday, with Mark Sears declaring for the NBA draft and the Crimson Tide closing in on an assistant coach hire.

Sears became Alabama’s fourth player to declare for the NBA draft, but he is maintaining his college eligibility and could return to Tuscaloosa. He started all 37 games for the Crimson Tide this past season, averaging 12.5 points and 2.6 assists. The 6-foot-1 guard started his career at Ohio and earned first-team All-MAC honors as a sophomore in 2021-22 before transferring to Alabama.

“I want to display my ability to play point guard,” Sears told ESPN. “I have been playing point guard all of my college career so far, and this year I learned how to play without the ball in my hands. I would like to hear feedback on how NBA teams see me as a potential prospect.”

His decision follows those of Brandon Miller, Noah Clowney and Charles Bediako, who all already declared for the NBA draft. Miller and Clowney are projected first-round picks, with Miller projected to be the first college player chosen in June. Bediako is maintaining his college eligibility and will likely return to Alabama.

The deadline for players to withdraw from the NBA draft and return to college is May 31.

Alabama also has two players in the transfer portal, with part-time starter Jaden Bradley entering earlier this week and Nimari Burnett announcing his commitment to Michigan following the end of the season.

The program’s turnover hasn’t been limited to the roster, with Nate Oats seeing all three of his assistants hired as head coaches elsewhere this spring. Arkansas State hired Bryan Hodgson and Georgia Southern tabbed Charlie Henry last month, while Kennesaw State made official its hiring of Antoine Pettway on Friday.

Oats is closing in on his first replacement, however. Alabama is expected to hire Nicholls State head coach Austin Claunch as an assistant coach, sources told ESPN on Saturday. Claunch was involved in a number of head-coaching searches over the past two cycles, but the 33-year-old is in the process of finalizing a deal to join Oats’ staff.

He has been coach at Nicholls State for five seasons, winning two Southland Conference regular-season titles and going 51-17 in conference play over the past four seasons.

Alabama earned the program’s first-ever 1-seed this past season, winning both the SEC regular-season and conference tournaments titles en route to being the overall top seed in the NCAA tournament. The Crimson Tide went 31-6 before falling to San Diego State in the Sweet 16.

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