Bama Hoops Hype

2017-18 Season Preview: Braxton Key

Alabama Men's Basketball

It did not take long for Braxton Key to make an impact in his freshman season with the Crimson Tide last year. After coming off the bench in Alabama’s first four games, Key moved into the starting lineup after posting 8.5 points per game on 57 percent shooting. The freshman started the team’s final 30 games and finished the season winning the team’s Most Outstanding Freshman award.

After declaring for the NBA draft, Key decided to return to Tuscaloosa for a sophomore year. Key wanted to weigh his options moving forward but, hopefully for his sake, returning for a season with players like John Petty and Collin Sexton will surely help.

“I am excited for the future of the Alabama basketball program and looking forward to getting to work as we prepare for next season. Roll Tide and Buckle Up!” – Key’s statement after announcing his return

The Oak Hill Academy prospect led Alabama in scoring last season with 12.0 points per game. He scored 14 points per conference game but there were still signs of inconsistency on the offensive end. Key shot just 43 percent from the field and 63 percent from the free throw line. In the Tide’s 5-point loss to Kentucky in the SEC Tournament, Key made just 4 of his 15 shot attempts.

Key will likely be expected to match, or at least come close to, his team-high 29.8 minutes per game from last season. However, he should also be allowed to play in his more natural position. Last year, Key was expected to play with the ball in his hands more often than not. While his ball handling abilities may be above average for his size, his 3.1 turnovers per game were a major factor in many of the Tide’s losses. Key had five turnovers in losses to Oregon, Kentucky, Texas A&M and Richmond.

While his inconsistencies were obvious as a freshman, Key’s potential is still sky high. Without the pressure of being a primary ball handler or a number one scoring option, Key should thrive. Look for the Tide’s success to go hand in hand with the success of the sophomore.

Caleb Turrentine is the editor for Bama Hoops Hype. You can follow him on Twitter for in-game updates at @CalebTurrentine.

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