When the 2021-22 season ended, it became quite clear that the Alabama basketball list would undergo a revision.
With many departures already taking place and probably more on the way, head coach Nate Oats had to use the transfer portal to his advantage to find players who fit his optimal system in Tuscaloosa.
Last week, Oats and the company began doing just that, and Ohio point guard Mark Sears, one of the most coveted players on the transfer portal, landed.
Sears, who comes from Muscle Shoals, announced his decision on Twitter on Thursday, saying he “is coming home.” The school officially made it Tuesday.
“[It means] a lot, “Sears said in an exclusive interview with BamaCentral.” I haven’t played back in my home country since high school, so it’s special to get to play Division 1 basketball here, especially at a high level. It’s a blessing to be able to do that. “
Ironically, Sears had family attending Auburn and he grew up with the Tigers, especially in football.
But the 6-foot-1 point guard, who was rated as a 3-star prospect by both 247Sports and Rivals, was not recruited by either state power, Alabama or Auburn, out of high school.
When Sears entered the transfer portal, he was heavily recruited by Alabama as well as Texas, Miami, Georgetown and Mississippi State.
Sears has a style of play that could fit perfectly with Alabama and the Oats’ offensive system. The left-handed guard likes to “get up and down” on the field and averaged 19.6 points per game last season. The All-MAC first-team pick also averaged just over four assists, shooting nearly 41 percent from three-point range.
Last season, he topped the league in scoring and free throw percentage.
“He’s a great decision maker and is great in the transition,” Oats said of his other skills when announcing the Sears’ addition.
“I think our fans will have a lot of fun watching him next season.”
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During his two years in Ohio, the Sears scored 884 career points, including 688 last season alone, and 225 assists, shooting 44.8 percent from the field and 38.0 percent from three-point range.
While in Ohio, the Sears played with now-Los Angeles Clippers guard Jason Preston during his freshman season.
“I learned I have to play at pace,” Sears said. “Never let the defense beat you. I learned pick-and-roll how to read it [Preston] do how to read the third man. “
When asked why he ultimately chose Alabama, Sears was straightforward and to the point.
“I was the right fit,” Sears said. “I like how the system is guard-oriented.”
In a system where the Oats rely on shots on the edge and shots from three, the value of the Sears can be enormous. Crimson Tide’s top scorer from beyond the arc last season, the now deceased Keon Ellis, shot just 36 percent.
“My ability to shoot the three, my ability to get to the paint and make mistakes, to attract a lot of attention and to be able to kick it out, to make my teammates better,” Sears said when he became asked what he brings to the Alabama system.
Perhaps the most important thing Sears brings to Alabama will not show up on the statistics sheet.
By the end of the season, the Oats had constantly mentioned leadership as a key component that was missing in the locker room of Alabama. Whatever the reason, it has undoubtedly contributed to the team’s collapse in March.
Sears is looking to change that culture and is already working to do just that.
“[I see myself in] that leadership role, “Sears said.” To come in and be a leader and lead by a good example. “
Prior to his commitment, Sears planned a visit to Alabama during the A-Day weekend. He is still planning to take the trip and he will be joined by a non-committal transfer portal, West Virginia forward Jalen Bridges.
“[I’m] trying to get him on board, “Sears said.
Alabama Basketballs Mark Sears