Alabama made the first major splash of the 2019 college basketball coaching carousel on Wednesday as the school announced the hiring of Buffalo head coach Nate Oats.
The 44-year-old Oats was considered one of the hottest young names in college basketball after taking the Bulls to three NCAA tournament appearances in four seasons as head coach — including back-to-back appearances in the NCAA tournament’s Round of 32.
Oats has quickly ascended among the coaching ranks thanks to his strong recruiting ability at a mid-major while helping lead Buffalo into a consistent top-25 program this season. Replacing Avery Johnson, Oats’ hiring comes as a bit of a surprise, but ultimately it could be a tremendous decision for the Crimson Tide. Players seem to enjoy playing for him, and Oats is considered a rising star in terms of his in-game coaching abilities.
With a 97-43 record in four seasons at Buffalo, Oats is a proven winner at the MAC level who will be asked to make Alabama a perennial NCAA tournament team in an SEC that has quickly become very respectable in basketball.