Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

No spotlight needed: Mark Sears having career season despite lack of national attention

CW / Riley Thompson
Alabama guard Mark Sears (#1) moves down the court against Mississippi State on Feb. 3 in Coleman Coliseum.

After averaging 12.6 points on a Crimson Tide team that entered last year’s tournament as the No. 1 overall seed, Alabama guard Mark Sears has taken his game to a different level.  

This season, Sears is averaging 20.6 points per game, the most of any player in head coach Nate Oats’ tenure at Alabama.  

Sears also leads the SEC in points per game. In fact, he has scored at least 20 in all but one conference game, scoring just 9 points against Missouri back on Jan. 16.  

This has helped Sears receive SEC player of the week honors twice this season. But outside of the conference, crickets, mostly.  

The one exception is being recently named to the Naismith Trophy midseason team, which highlights some of the best players in the country who are in the conversation for the coveted award.  

But despite being the best scorer on the top team in the SEC, Sears was not one of the final 10 candidates for the Bob Cousy Award, which recognizes the top point guard in Division I men’s basketball.   

“Whoever is deciding who’s on these lists, I don’t think he’s looking at everything going on in college basketball right now, to be honest with you,” Oats said after learning Sears had been left off the list. 

Out of the 10 candidates for the Bob Cousy award, Texas A&M guard Wade Taylor IV leads the pack in scoring at 19.1 points per game, 1.5 points below Sears’ season average. While scoring is far from the sole responsibility of a point guard, it still seems odd that Sears’ name is not even considered among the 10 best point guards at the Division I level.  

But being overlooked is nothing new for Sears. 

Coming out of high school as a 6-foot, 155-pound point guard, Sears received just three offers. Two offers came from his home state with UAB and South Alabama showing interest in the three-star recruit. The third came from Ohio University, located over 500 miles from his hometown of Muscle Shoals, Alabama.  

In two seasons at Ohio, he averaged 15.2 points per game, was named to the All-Mid-American Conference first team, and even finished as a finalist for the Lou Hensen Award, which goes to the top player from a pool of non-Power Five conferences. Sears averaged 19.7 points per game during his second season. 

This scoring ability caught the attention of Oats and his staff, who wanted to bring Sears back to his home state to play for the Crimson Tide. 

“Our entire staff felt like Mark was one of the best overall guards available in the transfer portal, so we really went after him hard,” Oats said after landing Sears in the transfer portal. “He is a high character kid with great basketball feel who is a perfect fit for the way we want to play.”  

After playing in the shadow of superstar Brandon Miller for a season, Sears is now the top dog for the Crimson Tide offensively. Like Miller, Sears has been the best player on a rising Alabama team that has championship aspirations.  

Unlike Miller, though, Sears has garnered very little interest from scouts and analysts as an NBA prospect. Searching the internet for mock drafts, you would be hard-pressed to find any featuring Sears’ name.  

This all points to one lingering question. 

Why is Mark Sears not receiving more recognition?  

Well, as far as Sears’ status as an NBA prospect, there is one potential factor.  

He just isn’t that big.    

Basketball has changed a lot in the last 10-15 years, especially at the professional level. The game is starting to see the rise of “positionless basketball” with players such as Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Victor Wembanyama able to play at seemingly any spot on the floor.  

This new ideal type of player usually has a very large wingspan, is close to if not 7 feet in height, and can score from anywhere on the floor.  

Sears fits one of these criteria, as he can efficiently score from just about anywhere on the floor. As far as height and wingspan, Sears measures in at just 6-foot-1, and his wingspan is quite short of Wembanyama’s 8 feet to say the least.  

However, this does not explain his lack of recognition at the college level. Sears has led Alabama to the top spot in of the toughest conferences in college basketball, leading all scorers in the conference while he’s at it.  

Yet, many of his peers in the SEC, such as Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht and Kentucky’s Antonio Reeves and Rob Dillingham, have received much more national attention.  

After Alabama’s dominant win over Texas A&M on Feb. 17, Sears’ teammates shared their thoughts on Mark’s national recognition.  

“He should be on all of the player of the year award lists,” guard Rylan Griffen said. “He’s player of the year for us.”  

“That’s a fact,” guard Latrell Wrightsell Jr. chimed in.  

“I don’t score without them,” Sears said. “These are my guys. It’s hard to really lock in on one player when we’ve got such dynamic shooters that can also put the ball on the floor and score anytime they want to.”  

There is still a lot of basketball to be played this season, though. 

With the SEC and NCAA tournaments quickly approaching, Sears could easily slingshot himself into the spotlight in the world of college basketball.  

Until then, he will be the underdog, as he has been for much of his basketball career.  

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