Alabama Crimson Tide mascot performs against the Texas A&M-CC Islanders Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Everybody knows that the Alabama Crimson Tide has a rich football tradition. But did you know they have a rich college basketball tradition as well?

The Tide is second only to the Kentucky Wildcats in terms of SEC titles and they’ve sent many players to the first round of the NBA Draft, including Brandon Miller, who recently went No. 2 overall.

Alabama has produced its share of great players, going back to before the Wimp Sanderson years. Some names may be familiar to college basketball fans but others might only really be remembered by Crimson Tide supporters.

Here is our list of the 10 greatest Alabama Crimson Tide basketball players of all time.

10. Wendall Hudson, forward

Wendall Hudson made this list for several reasons. First, he was the first African-American athlete, let alone a basketball player, to receive a scholarship from the University of Alabama. He was named SEC MVP two years in a row and was an All-American in 1973. Not only did he lead the SEC in scoring in 1972-73 but also led the team in scoring and rebounding in 1971-72. He led the SEC in scoring in 1972-73 and was the leading rebounder in 1971-72. Hudson was the team leader in scoring and rebounding for two consecutive seasons. After his playing career was over he went into coaching and became the head coach of the Alabama women’s basketball team between 2008 and 2013.

9. Mark Gottfried, point guard

Mark Gottfried might be better known for his time as head coach of the Alabama men’s basketball team between 1998 and 2009, he was a player on that squad first. Gottfried was a star for the Tide and still holds the school records for most three-pointers in a game (8) and career field goal percentage (.485). He started 98 consecutive games for Bama and was part of three Sweet Sixteen squads. Gottfried has the rare distinction of winning an SEC regular season championship as a player and a coach. He finished with a 210-131 record as head coach, taking the team to five NCAA Tournaments and one Elite Eight appearance.

Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Wimp Sanders talks with forward Robert Horry
Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Wimp Sanders talks with forward Robert Horry. Credit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

8. Robert Horry, Forward

Before seven-time NBA champion Robert Horry became “Big Shot Rob,” he was Mr. Clutch for Wimp Sanderson’s Alabama teams of the early 1990s. Horry took care of business on the defensive side of the court as well, setting a school record for career blocked shots (282). He was also a second, and third-team All-SEC selection, named to the SEC All-Defensive team and the SEC All-Academic teams. He helped lead the Tide to three SEC Tournament titles and reached the Sweet 16 twice. Horry was one of those rare big men who could shoot the rock from the three-point range which is why many NBA teams loved him.

7. Ennis Whatley, point guard

Ennis Whatley was one of the first major stars for the Crimson Tide under coach Wimp Sanderson. When Whatley was in high school in Birmingham, Alabama, it was rumored that the recruiting battle was fierce between Alabama and UAB, but Sanderson won. Whatley would become a second-team All-American and help lead the Tide to the 1982 SEC Tournament Championship as a freshman. Later, he would be the first-round draft choice of the Kansas City Kings (n0w Sacramento Kings) and would play professionally for over a decade. He is also a part of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

6. Latrell Sprewell, shooting guard

Who would have thought that one of the biggest stars in Crimson Tide history would hail from Wisconsin? Like teammate Robert Horry, Sprewell was an All-SEC performer and made the SEC All-Defensive team in 1992. As a senior, Sprewell averaged almost 18 points and two assists per game. He would go on to be drafted in the NBA Draft first round by the Golden State Warriors. Although he had a long NBA career, it was filled with controversy, including an infamous choking incident with Warriors head coach P.J. Carlesimo.

5. Leon Douglas, center

Many good big men come through the doors in Tuscaloosa, but the best was probably Leon Douglas. Douglas was part of the Alabama teams of the early 1970s where he set the standard for Alabama big men for years to come. Douglas was a two-time All-SEC first-team selection and two-time SEC Player of the Year. Douglas was part of C.M. Newton’s first integrated team at Alabama. Douglas praised Newton for having the courage to put the first all-black starting line-up at the time, saying “We knew Coach Newton (signed us) because he wanted to win. He wasn’t trying to be a trailblazer. You have to respect a man for putting five black starters on the court when others said it was a no-no.” In his senior year, Douglas averaged a double-double (20 points and 12 rebounds) and was a third-team All-American. He was a first-round draft choice of the Detroit Pistons in 1976. 

Alabama Crimson Tide forward Herbert Jones (1) shoots over Georgia Bulldogs forward P.J. Horne (24)
Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

4. Herbert Jones, small forward

If there is one player that personified Alabama coach Nate Oats‘ first SEC Championship team, it was Herbert Jones. Jones not only helped lead the Crimson Tide to its first SEC Championship in decades, but he was named SEC Player of the Year, SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and made the All-SEC Defensive team twice. Jones’s most memorable moment came against LSU in 2020 when he had to shoot two free throws with an injured hand to seal the game and ended up making them both. As a senior, he averaged 11.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. Jones was later drafted in the second round by the New Orleans Pelicans.

Alabama Crimson Tide guard Collin Sexton (2)
Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

3. Collin Sexton, guard

One of the most exciting players to ever put on a Crimson Tide uniform was Collin Sexton. Unlike most players on this list, he didn’t lead his team to an SEC title, but he still was an electrifying player to watch. In his lone season at the school, Sexton was named SEC Freshman of the Year, made the SEC All-Freshman team, and was a second-team All-SEC selection. He also helped lead the Crimson Tide to the NCAA Tournament that season. Sexton’s most memorable game came when the Tide had to play Minnesota three-on-five following several ejections. He almost single-handedly willed Bama to victory. Months later, he propelled Alabama over Texas A&M with a buzzer-beater in the SEC Tournament then poured in 31 points in an upset win over one-seed Auburn. He was named to the All-Tournament Team after averaging 26.3 points, 3 assists, and 5 rebounds in 3 games. He left Alabama after that and became a first-round pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

2. Reggie “Mule” King, forward

Reggie King, often referred to as “The Mule,” was a star for the Tide in the 1970s under head coach C.M. Newton. King was a two-time second-team All-American, two-time SEC Player of the Year, and SEC Male Athlete of the Year. Like Ennis Whatley, he was later drafted in the first round by the Kansas City Kings. In his junior and senior years at Alabama, King averaged 21 and 22 points respectively, and shot nearly 60 percent from the field in both seasons. He ended his Alabama career with over 2,000 points.

Alabama forward Brandon Miller (24) is defended by Tennessee guard Jahmai Mashack
Alabama forward Brandon Miller (24) is defended by Tennessee guard Jahmai Mashack (15).

1. Brandon Miller, forward

Perhaps the best and most controversial player to ever put on an Alabama Crimson Tide uniform is Brandon Miller. Miller’s father played at Alabama, so it was no surprise that the five-star recruit was headed to Tuscaloosa as well. In one season with the Tide, Miller arguably became the biggest basketball star to come out of Tuscaloosa. He was named SEC Player of the Year, SEC Rookie of the Year, second-team All-American, NABC’s Freshman of the Year, the Wayman Tisdale Award winner, and was named SEC Tournament’s MVP while leading Alabama to their second SEC Championship regular season title under head coach Nate Oats. Miller would average almost 19 points per game and two assists.

Miller’s involvement, or lack thereof, in the murder of a young woman by one of his ex-teammates, created major controversy around the program, especially when Oats refused to suspend the star player as reports and rumors swirled. Miller did not face any charges from the incident. He was selected with the second-overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets.

About Stacey Mickles

Stacey is a 1995 graduate of the University of Alabama who has previously worked for other publications such as Sportskeeda and Saturday Down South.