Alabama center Charles Bediako plans to stay in the NBA draft and forgo his remaining college eligibility, sources told ESPN on Monday.
Bediako becomes the third Crimson Tide starter to leave for the draft, following projected top-three pick Brandon Miller and first-rounder Noah Clowney. Guards Mark Sears and Jahvon Quinerly also entered their names into the draft, but they have until May 31 to withdraw and return to the Crimson Tide.
A 7-footer from Canada, Bediako started all 37 games this past season for Alabama, the nation’s No. 1 team entering the NCAA tournament. He averaged 6.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks, while shooting nearly 66% from the field.
Bediako played his best basketball down the stretch of the season, scoring in double figures in five of his final six games — including 12 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks against Texas A&M in the SEC championship game, and 10 points and 10 rebounds against Maryland in the NCAA tournament.
With his length and explosiveness at the rim, he was the anchor for an Alabama defense that led the nation in 2-point percentage defense and ranked top five in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency.
As a freshman, Bediako started 30 of 33 games, averaging 6.7 points and 4.3 rebounds and shooting better than 69% from the field.
Nate Oats’ program has undergone massive personnel changes this offseason, both on the roster and on the sideline. In addition to the handful of players entering the NBA draft, starting point guard Jaden Bradley entered the transfer portal, as did Nimari Burnett. Reserves Noah Gurley and Dominick Welch used up their eligibility.
Alabama is already welcoming six new players, led by ESPN 100 prospects Sam Walters and Kris Parker, as well as talented transfers Aaron Estrada (Hofstra) and Latrell Wrightsell (Cal State Fullerton).
Oats also lost all three of his assistant coaches to head coaching-jobs, with Bryan Hodgson (Arkansas State), Charlie Henry (Georgia Southern) and Antoine Pettway (Kennesaw State) leaving. They’ve been replaced by Austin Claunch, who left his post as Nicholls State’s head coach, and former New Orleans Pelicans assistant Ryan Pannone.