Bama Hoops Hype

The Depth of the Tide

Joe Habshey - Bama Hoops Hype

Ranking the entirety of Avery Johnson’s ‘Dream Team’ from super-sub to standout, determining who must shoulder the load for a successful 2017-18 campaign.

Avery Johnson has proven his worth when it comes to recruiting, somehow slingshotting his Crimson Tide side to the forefront of the basketball world once again, turning heads from some of the biggest teams in the nation, and rebranding this team, from one that once merely survived in the shadow of their football counterpart to a team that is making headlines and showing once and for all that Tuscaloosa is Title Town, and not just for football anymore.

It is with Avery Johnson’s glorious revolution through marvelous recruiting that has instantly slingshotted Alabama into the conversation for a possibly NCAA tournament run.  But just how impactful will these two phenomenal freshmen be?  And are they the most crucial players for the total success of this team?  I’ve ranked every player on the Crimson Tide Roster and diagnosed just how much their own personal success is crucial to the rise of this Alabama Basketball team.

(For players that participated in the 2016-17 season, a link to their player report card will be attached.)

#14 Landon Fuller

Landon Fuller is a walk-on that presents immediate potential thanks to his size at 6’8.  What brings him in at #14 on this list is a result of the upcoming talent as well as the depth the Tide already possess in the post coming into this season.  Should injuries not plague this squad, don’t bank on seeing Fuller in the game with the score within 20.

#13 Galin Smith

Galin Smith, the first of the ‘fab five’ that Avery Johnson has assembled in Tuscaloosa and one that will be able to use this season as a time for him to develop his skills under the watchful eye and mentoring of both Avery Johnson and veteran big-men Donta Hall and Daniel Giddens.  Smith could see some minutes in games of lesser importance, but needs improvement before he can be relied on to make a immediate impact.

#12 Lawson Schaffer

Ahh. Lawdagger. The last-second assassin.  I have not tried to hide my favor to the Law Firm, and it pains me to leave him at a mere #12 on the list, but Schaffer has more than shown that he belongs where he is.   Johnson has experimented with Schaffer, using Schaffer’s ability to light up a crowd to his advantage, turning the Tide in close games.  While it seems like Schaffer is improving and could potentially see more minutes in the coming season, it’s not realistic to speculate Schaffer seeing more than a sporadic amount of game time.

#11 Herb Jones

Herb Jones was a tough player to categorize for these purposes.  In one hand, he is an incredibly skilled ballplayer with great size, but on the other hand,  his build has not caught up to his skill on the Division 1 level.  This leaves Avery Johnson with a big decision as to what next season could hold for Jones, beit redshirting or experimenting.  But nonetheless, Jones’ future is bright with the Tide and while next season might not be his breakout, his time is certainly coming.

#10 Alex Reese

Alex Reese is yet another stellar freshman coming into the team this year, but is the first on the list that could be receiving quality minutes on a regular basis.  With great size at 6’9, Reese has great range on his jumpshot and can add an all new dimension to the pick and roll offense that the Tide loved to run but failed to excel in.  He is a player that while still developing, offers a great new look at the ways in which this year’s squad could operate.

#9 Ar’Mond Davis

Ar’Mond Davis is one of the Tide’s returning seniors, looking to end his college career on the highest point possible.  Davis was a transfer student from Southern Idaho that made an astounding impact during his breakthrough Junior season.  Davis will look to be an anchor for the team, stepping up when other teammates aren’t performing and serving as the glue to hold this Crimson Tide squad together.  While Davis will be crucial to the depth and longevity of the team should injuries arise, he will not be needed to shoulder too much of the load for the Tide to succeed.

#8 Avery Johnson Jr.

Avery Johnson Jr. has been making incredible strides in the betterment of his game under his father.  Upon the graduation of Retin Obasohan, Johnson Jr. stepped up to serve as one of the Tide’s premier ball handlers and court generals.  His role should certainly decrease as the weight will be thrust upon some of the star freshman coming in, but Johnson Jr.’s leadership and maturity will certainly be called upon this season and will require him to always be ready to make the difference.

#7 Donta Hall

Donta Hall is one of the Tide’s few premier big-men returning for next season, and one that will be leading the Tide front court with the most amount of experience.  Hall will have to be ready to play physical each and every night and battle for the boards with the biggest and best centers that every team can put forward.  Hall is definitely one of the biggest factors in the paint for the upcoming season, but as we all know, basketball has been evolving over the years into more of a guards game, which is why Hall can only find himself at number six on this countdown, despite just how crucial of a role he will hold for this campaign with the Tide.

#6 Riley Norris

Riley Norris will be coming off what was a rather, less than extraordinary, junior season.  He did show his moments of promise however, and will be looking to end his career with the Tide on a high note.  The Tide need him to do so as well, given their struggles in the past from beyond the arc.  Now, while some of the freshmen coming in next season have displayed a bit of range on their own, nothing is certain when you take the next step and the competition is raised, so the more shooters that Avery Johnson can have at his disposal, the better this Alabama team can be going forward.  It is crucial that Norris gets off to a good start going in to this season and carry that momentum throughout if the Tide wish to really make a push to be dancing in March.

 #5 Daniel Giddens

Daniel Giddens, the redshirted transfer from Ohio State, will be looking to make an immediate impact with his first season for the Tide.  Giddens looks to be a player who can form an incredibly dynamic front court alongside Donta Hall and, given the quality of his jump shot, could allow the Tide to be lethal in a Pick and Roll style offense that Johnson is sure to love.  The Tide are a very young side all around, but no where else is that more evident than in the paint.  For this team to really make this a season to remember, Giddens needs to assert himself right off the back.  Donta Hall will be rather consistent, but if Giddens can make plays as well, then the SEC will certainly be keeping their eyes on the “football school’ in Tuscaloosa.

#4 Dazon Ingram

Dazon Ingram was very aggressive at times during the 2016-17 season and was a consistent scorer for the Tide.  The first of a dynamic freshman duo from last season, Ingram was magnificent for a great majority of the year, very rarely showing weakness in his game.  With another year under Avery Johnson to develop, Ingram should see his jump shot improving, and will therefore be a large contributor in this offense as well as a sturdy lockdown perimeter defender.  Though he is still young, Ingram will need to be very consistent in his play if the Tide hope to have anything to resemble a successful season.

#3 John Petty

The first of this year’s phenomenal freshmen, Mr. Basketball, aka John Petty, will need to show that they are worth the hype.  All of this season’s expectations are built on the idea that together with Collin Sexton, they can deliver.  John Petty will do his fair share of scoring, but where I – as well as many Tide fans – see Petty excelling more than anywhere else is on the defensive side of the ball, where his long frame and quickness combined with his explosive ability should allow him to make plays both above and below the rim and lead this Tide defense by example.  Petty is a very peculiar player, but one that the Tide must see succeed early and hope that this could be the beginning of an incredible run.

#2 Braxton Key

Braxton Key will be returning for his sophomore season despite initially declaring for the NBA draft, and this only means that the Tide will be even deeper.  Key was the anchor for the team during his freshman season, leading this side in nearly every category while being a consistent scoring threat, seeming to shine even when no one else on thec court was able to.  Key will need to be the team’s hardened veteran despite his inexperience and lead this team if they want a shot this year.  Controlling the hype that comes with a freshmen class like this is no easy task, but if Key can help keep the boys focused this season, then there is not limit to what they can achieve for themselves and for the University of Alabama.

#1 Collin Sexton

Collin Sexton.  Need I say more?  His impact will be everything for this team.  Now, while it is pretty evident his stay will be but one year in Tuscaloosa, the importance of it being a year to remember cannot be overstated.  If the Tide want to become a lasting and consistently performing side on the hardwood, then making something out of the talent they finally possess is paramount.  This season means so much to the future of Alabama Basketball and making a push in the tournament could slingshot this team into the ranks of basketball’s elite.  Colin Sexton will be have to be the heart of this push.  Living up to the expectations placed for you is not always a fair thing to do with young players, but Sexton has made it very evident that he is thriving in it, and always up for a challenge.  Should he accept the challenge of carrying this Tide team to places unbeknown to them since 2012, then who knows what is really possible.

 

Johnathan Anderson covers Alabama Men’s Basketball for Bama Hoops Hype. You can follow him on Instagram, via @johnathananderson_ and Twitter, via @JohnathanA_.

 

 

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