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Alabama hires Austin Claunch as assistant coach

NCAA Basketball: Nicholls State at Purdue

Dec 29, 2021; West Lafayette, Indiana, USA; Nicholls State Colonels head coach Austin Claunch yells from the sideline during the first half against the Purdue Boilermakers at Mackey Arena. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama coach Nate Oats hired Nicholls State head coach Austin Claunch to fill one of his three vacancies on the bench.

Oats announced the hiring of Claunch, who led Nicholls State to 90 wins over the last five seasons and back-to-back Southland Conference regular season titles. He was the league’s 2021 coach of the year.

Oats lost three assistants to head coaching jobs after leading the Crimson Tide to the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. Bryan Hodgson left for Arkansas State, Charlie Henry took over at Georgia Southern and Antoine Pettway went to Kennesaw State.

“Austin is one of the hardest working guys in the business,” Oats said. “His work as a head coach at Nicholls was unbelievable with one of the lowest budgets in the country. He has won two out of the last three regular season championships in the Southland Conference and that is a credit to his hard work and his energy.

Claunch was the youngest Division I men’s basketball coach from 2018-21. He went 90-61 at Nicholls State.