Alabama big man Grant Nelson will return for final season of eligibility

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Alabama forward Grant Nelson announced Monday that he will return for his final season of eligibility, locking in a key piece for the Tide next season. Nelson was an every game starter last season, averaging 11.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game while helping the team to its first Final Four berth in school history.

Nelson, who entered the 2023 NBA Draft process, was a candidate to enter again this year, particularly after an impressive NCAA Tournament run that included a 24-point, 12-rebound effort in the Sweet 16 against North Carolina and 19 points and 15 rebounds against eventual champion UConn in the Final Four. Now, Nelson returns as a foundational piece to a roster that will have perhaps the highest preseason expectations in school history with the No. 2 overall recruiting class (high school and transfers) nationally, according to 247Sports.

The 6 feet 11, 230-pound Nelson transferred from North Dakota State last June. He took time adjusting to the heightened competition but rounded into form. With a season of experience and an upcoming full offseason in the program, Nelson ua primed to take a significant step. If Alabama adds a coveted big man through the transfer portal, it could allow Nelson to play his more natural power forward position. Two names to watch are Clifford Omoruyi (Rutgers) and Ugonna Onyenso (Kentucky).

Nelson is one of four confirmed players returning from last season, joining guard Latrell Wrightsell Jr. and forwards Mohamed Dioubate and Jarin Stevenson.

Guard Mark Sears is going through the NBA Draft process with the option to return to Alabama, a decision doesn’t have to be made until May 29.

A look at Alabama’s 2024-25 projected scholarship distribution

*Yet to officially announce return

Returning guards: Mark Sears*, Latrell Wrigthsell Jr.

Incoming guards: Aden Holloway (Auburn), Houston Mallette (Pepperdine), Labaron Philon (four-star recruit), Chris Youngblood (South Florida)

Returning forwards: Grant Nelson, Mohamed Dioubate, Jarin Stevenson

Incoming forwards: Derrion Reid (four-star recruit), Naas Cunningham (four-star recruit)

Incoming centers: Aiden Sherrell (four-star recruit)

 (Photo: Kirby Lee / USA Today)

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