Nate Oats Ponders What He'll Remember from 2020-2021 Alabama Basketball Team

Nate Oats Ponders What He'll Remember from 2020-2021 Alabama Basketball Team

Crimson Corner: The Stakes of Alabama Basketball's NBA Draft Decisions

While John Petty Jr. and Herbert Jones have both officially parted ways with the Crimson Tide, Josh Primo and Jaden Shackelford still have decisions to make before July 7
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Alabama basketball guards Josh Primo and Jaden Shackelford will soon have a life-changing decision to make.

With every passing day, the July 7 deadline to formally forgo college basketball and officially declare themselves for the 2021 NBA Draft draws closer. While teammates John Petty Jr. and Herbert Jones — both of whom were seniors during the 2020-2021 season — have formally declared and could be second-round selections, things aren't nearly as a clearcut for Primo and Shackelford.

Shackelford faces the easier decision of the duo. While he certainly impressed during his time on the court in 2021 — leading the Crimson Tide with 461 points and averaging 14 per game — he didn't receive an invite to the draft combine. He also hasn't hired an agent, leaving the door open for a possible return. 

Primo's future could depend quite heavily on his performance at this week's combine. Last season, he played in a total of 30 games and started 19 as a true freshman. Along with being one of the youngest players featured in this year's draft class, Primo also provides a highly sought-after rarity: talent at a young age. For an NBA franchise with a solid roster, he wouldn't need to immediately start and could be an ideal late-round addition.

The NBA seems to have noticed Primo heading into the combine. On Monday, NBA.com included Primo as one of its top shooting guard prospects, noting that he is "a raw, but promising two-way guard."

He's hired an NCAA certified agent, meaning that he can still return for his sophomore season and beyond should he choose. Primo no doubt could return to an Alabama basketball program that's loaded with talent for the 2021-22 season. But if he could leave and begin an NBA career a year earlier after a solid week at the combine, his departure would be understandable.

In addition to the two players with decisions to make, Crimson Tide coach Nate Oats and his staff will also have to remain with decisions of their own to make. However, those will have to wait until after both Shackelford and Primo announce their intent. Currently, the Crimson Tide roster is still one player over the scholarship limit should both Primo and Shackelford return. 

Hypothetically, if Shackelford were to return and Primo depart, the player limit would be acceptable. However, should both return, Oats could be caught in a bind.

The knee-jerk reaction of most Alabama fans would be for both Shackelford and Primo to return, and that is definitely understandable. However, a situation where Primo is drafted in the later first round could also be beneficial for Oats and his program.

It would make back-to-back years in which a player was selected in the first round, guard Kira Lewis Jr. being the other in the 2020 NBA Draft. There aren't too many programs able to boast that in recruiting while reloading for the 2022-2023 season.

Regardless of each player's decision, both could provide valuable SEC basketball experience to an Alabama team that's poised to make a run for back-to-back Southeastern Conference titles. Should they return, the Crimson Tide likely has a better chance at achieving that goal. However, should Primo decide to leave, the long-term success of the program could also benefit.

Alabama basketball guards Josh Primo and Jaden Shackelford will soon have a life-changing decision to make.

With every passing day, the July 7 deadline to formally forgo college basketball and officially declare themselves for the 2021 NBA Draft draws closer. While teammates John Petty Jr. and Herbert Jones — both of whom were seniors during the 2020-2021 season — have formally declared and could be second-round selections, things aren't nearly as a clearcut for Primo and Shackelford.

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