Alabama men’s basketball head coach Nate Oats announced the additions of Josh Baker as the special assistant to the head coach and former UA standout Andrew Steele as the director of men’s basketball video services, he announced on Friday.
Baker, a successful head coach at the high school level, reunites with Oats, as the two were college teammates at Maranatha Baptist (Wis.) University (1993-97) and coached together for nine years (2002-11) at Romulus (Mich.) High School.
“Josh and I go all the way back to college, and he is someone I have a ton of respect for,” Oats said. “He helped me get the Romulus program off the ground and running. We worked there together for nine years and won a lot of games together. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be where I am right now. He then took over a Southfield Christian program that hadn’t won much prior to his arrival and turned that into a perennial state championship contender. Josh has proven that he knows how to run a program, and he has a great basketball mind. Josh is a great person that has no ego and just wants to see our program succeed. He’s a winner at a very high level and is going to be a tremendous asset for the Alabama basketball program.”
Baker spent eight years (2011-19) as the head coach at Southfield Christian High School in Southfield, Mich. While there, he led the program to unprecedented heights. During the span, Baker’s teams went 181-30, with a 97-1 conference record and eight Michigan Independent Athletic Conference titles. In fact, the Eagles currently own an 82-game winning streak in conference play dating back to January 2013.
During his time at Southfield Christian, Baker’s teams won eight Michigan Independent Athletic Conference (MIAC) titles, six regional titles and five state titles (2012, 2013, 2014, 2018, 2019). Baker led the Southfield Christian basketball program to four state titles as a head coach and another as an assistant since joining the school for the 2011-12 season. Most recently, Baker led Southfield Christian to a state title in each of the last two seasons (2018 and 2019).
Baker was the MIAC Coach of the Year six different seasons, named the Michigan Regional Coach of the Year on three occasions and twice was chosen as the Michigan High School Athletic Association Coach of the Year, earning the honor in 2012 and 2018.
Prior to his Southfield Christian stint, Baker spent nearly a decade on Oats’ staff at Romulus High School (2002-11), while also coaching alongside current Alabama assistant coach Charlie Henry. After Baker left for Southfield Christian in 2011, both he and Oats remained close friends and even won a state title in the same year (2013) at the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State University.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to join the men’s basketball program at The University of Alabama,” Baker said. “I’m excited to have my family be a part of a special place. I can’t wait to start working with Coach Oats again. I believe in his system, his coaching style and how he develops players. This is a dream come true, and I just can’t wait to get started.”
Steele returns to Tuscaloosa after spending the 2018-19 season as the director of operations at Troy University. During his one season with the Trojans, Steele was responsible for a variety of things including overseeing all aspects of the program’s budget, game scheduling and coordinating the team’s travel throughout the year. Additionally, he was responsible for all basketball-related analytics data for practice and games while also overseeing the graduate assistant and student-manager staffs.
“I didn’t know Andrew before I came here, but so many people have spoken so highly of him since I arrived,” Oats said. “I met with him in person and had a great conversation. He’s a very genuine guy. I think it’s huge to have a former player, who has experience in the coaching profession and someone who is respected that is from the state of Alabama on our staff. Since I am not from this area, it was important for us to keep a guy like Antoine Pettway on staff as an assistant coach, and it’s also important to have someone on our support staff that is a former player, a younger guy climbing the ladder in this business. He really wants to this program succeed on a whole other level since he played here. I am excited to work with him and help him grow into a great young coach. We are very happy to welcome both he and his wife back home to Tuscaloosa.”
Prior to his time at Troy, Steele started his coaching career at South Alabama, beginning as a graduate assistant during the 2016-17 season before being elevated to director of operations for the 2017-18 campaign.
During his tenure with the Jags, Steele had a wide range of responsibilities including video coordinator, which included overseeing the filming of practice and games and the exchange of film with other schools. Additionally, he assisted with player and team development, conducted individual workouts and was responsible for all analytics during practices and games. He also monitored the academic progress of the student-athletes and oversaw the student manager staff.
Before coaching at the collegiate level, Steele spent two years at John Carroll Catholic High School in Birmingham, Ala., where he was a physical education teacher and the boys head basketball coach. He implemented practice plans for the ninth grade, junior varsity and varsity squads, and was responsible for all administrative aspects for each of the three teams.
As a player with the Alabama basketball program, Steele was a four-year letterwinner who appeared in 94 games with 20 starts during his playing career. As one of the team’s leaders, he helped the Crimson Tide to three 20-win seasons, an NCAA appearance and two NIT berths during his career in Tuscaloosa. Steele is married to the former Brittany Hines, who threw the javelin for the track and field team at The University of Alabama.
“Both Brittany and I are unbelievably excited about the opportunity to come back home,” Steele said. “The privilege of representing The University of Alabama as a student-athlete was one of the biggest joys of my life, so it’s an awesome blessing to be able to do it again, this time as a coach. Working for a coach and a person like Nate Oats makes the experience even more special. I’ve watched and admired his teams at Buffalo, and I look forward to working hard to help him establish a successful program at Alabama.”
In addition to announcing Baker and Steele, Oats announced the additions to his support staff, which includes Clarke Holter as athletic trainer, Alex Accetta as operations coordinator, Donovan Kates, Patrick Niland and Christian Pino as graduate managers and Rachel Releford as administrative assistant.