Bama standout Sears spurns draft to chase title
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Alabama‘s Mark Sears will withdraw from the NBA draft and return to school for his final season of eligibility, he told ESPN on Wednesday.

“I got good feedback from the NBA,” Sears told ESPN. “But I can still get better in a few areas. I want to show I am a dog on defense next season, continue to bring vocal leadership and work on my body and get into better shape. NIL has changed basketball and NBA teams told me that age isn’t a factor in today’s game, so I was comfortable coming back to try and bring home a national championship to Alabama.”

The NCAA deadline for players to withdraw from the NBA draft and maintain college eligibility was Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. ET.

In addition to Sears, Alabama’s Jarin Stevenson also took his name out of the draft prior to the deadline, a source told ESPN. Stevenson averaged 5.3 points as a freshman last season.

Sears was one of the best players in college basketball in 2023-24, earning second-team All-American and first-team All-SEC honors. He led Alabama to the Final Four, with several big outings in the NCAA tournament.

The Alabama native averaged 21.5 points (shooting 44% from 3), 4.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists, spearheading one of the country’s fastest-paced and most potent offenses.

Sears made a significant jump from the previous year, becoming a far more dynamic shooter and prolific overall scorer, something he says will continue in his fifth season of college basketball.

“I’ve gotten better every year and next season won’t be any different,” Sears said. “I got a taste of the Final Four, and now I want to finish it off and bring it home.”

Sears’ return to Tuscaloosa is a major boon for Nate Oats’ Crimson Tide, who will enter the season as one of the early favorites to win the national championship.

Alabama returns another March Madness darling in Grant Nelson for his final season of eligibility, likely Sears’ strongest competition for preseason SEC Player of the Year, as well as part-time starter Latrell Wrightsell Jr.

The Tide reeled in one of the top transfers in the portal in Rutgers center Cliff Omoruyi, as well as USF wing and AAC Co-Player of the Year Chris Youngblood, former five-star point guard Aden Holloway from Auburn and shooting guard Houston Mallette from Pepperdine.

Oats will also have several talented high school recruits in Derrion Reid, Labaron Philon, Aiden Sherrell and Naas Cunningham.

“I’m very excited about the team we have coming in,” Sears said. “I will have to do a good job of leading these guys in the right direction. I’m confident we can win the national championship.”

Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of, a private scouting and analytics service utilized by NBA, NCAA and international teams.

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