Nate Oats envisions Herb Jones defensive role for freshman Kris Parker

On3 imageby:Charlie Potter10/18/23

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Alabama Basketball coach Nate Oats speaks at SEC Tipoff '24

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Kris Parker is one of eight new players on the Alabama basketball roster for the upcoming 2023-24 season. The 4-star small forward out of Tallahassee, Fla., is now listed as a guard for the Crimson Tide at 6-foot-9, 195 pounds ahead of his debut.

Alabama head coach Nate Oats updated Parker’s progress since joining the program.

“It’s always hard for guys coming out of high school,” said Oats on Wednesday at SEC Tipoff ‘24. “They got to adjust to the speed of the game. So we’re working with him on his shooting. If he could shoot it, he’s got a chance to be really good. He’s long, he’s athletic. He plays hard.”

Parker averaged 24.8 points, 14.2 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 2.4 blocks per game as a senior at Crossroad Academy (Fla.). Named the Florida Class 2A Player of the Year, Parker helped lead his high school team to a 2A District 1 title in his final season and ultimately chose to play for the Crimson Tide and its 13th-rated signing class over Missouri, Villanova and UCF.

Parker has seemingly grown quite a bit since enrolling this summer. He was listed at 6-foot-6, 170 pounds when his signing was officially announced by Alabama but is now three inches taller and 25 pounds heavier, according to his profile on the Tide’s official athletics website.

That growth spurt could be a reason for the role Oats envisions for the freshman guard. During his time speaking at the Grand Bohemian Hotel Mountain Brook, Oats shared what that is.

“We’re trying to sell him on kind of that Herb Jones defensive role,” Oats said. “He’s definitely not to Herb Jones’ level on defense, but he has some physical tools to get there. He could be a versatile defender.” 

Jones was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in his final season at Alabama in 2021 and capped his illustrious career by playing in 129 games (101 starts) while combining for 947 points, 630 rebounds, 285 assists, 167 steals and 98 blocks. In his two seasons under Oats, he collected 33 “Hard Hat” awards and a total of 1,260 career Blue Collar points.

Parker has a long way to go to reach Jones’ level, but the newcomer could make an impact on a Crimson Tide team that only welcomed back three players who saw the court in 2022-23.

“We just got to keep coaching him, teaching him our system on defense,” Oats said. “Individually, he can be great within the team system on defense. But he’s got a chance to help us, for sure.”

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