Alabama guard Kira Lewis Jr., the SEC All-Freshman who entered the NCAA transfer portal following the departure of coach Avery Johnson two weeks ago, announced on Monday that he’ll return to Tuscaloosa for his sophomore season.
The announcement, which Lewis posted on social media, came less than half an hour after a cryptic tweet from new Alabama coach Nate Oats that read, “Roll Tide!”
Lewis averaged 13.5 points and 2.9 assists per game last season.
Oats, who came to Alabama after leading Buffalo to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances, made it clear that keeping Lewis was a priority. When he was introduced as Johnson’s successor on March 28, Oats said he met with Lewis for an hour in an attempt to convince him to stay.
“Look, right after I got off the phone with [Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne] and he scheduled the interview, I had about a day to prepare for the interview,” Oats told reporters. “I spent some time watching video of Alabama basketball, and he’s a pretty good player.
“If you’re a coach, you don’t look very good without very good [players]. You want to get the best players you can. They’ve got a really good one right here on the roster right now, so I’m going to do everything I can to make sure he’s playing in an Alabama uniform next year.”
Lewis wasn’t the only Alabama player to pull his name from the transfer portal. John Petty, who averaged 10.2 points per game last season, told Stadium on March 29 that he would return to school.