This is the first in a series of retrospective looks at Bama hoops history. A few comments about this series.....1. This is one man's opinion and I certainly welcome the feedback and comments of other Bama hoops junkies. 2. These rankings are based on their Alabama careers(including some level of projection for one current player), NOT their NBA career. 3. My Bama hoops perspective dates back to the very early 80's. I have included some of CM's players in this series based on the perspective I've gained from my family and friends that have followed hoops back into the 70's. Of course, the Rocket 8 period is a crucial part of Bama hoops history. And I want to make sure that it is noted that their absence in these rankings is not intended to discount their value in our history. Nevertheless, please keep in mind that when I say UA hoops history, I'm talking early 1970's to present.
Here we go....
Ranking the point guards.
1. Ron Steele. I know. He's only a sophmore. He hasn't won a single SEC tournament title, regular season title nor has he taken his team to the sweet 16. Nevertheless, I think he's the best pt. guard we've had. Let's look at the roles a point guard plays: 1. Leadership 2. Ball handling 3. Passing 4. Perimeter shooting 5. Defense 6. Ability to penetrate and create open shots for teammates 7. Free Throws. Where's the weakness? He's not the best in Bama history at all those categories but he's pretty damn close and he's going to be with us 2 more years and have a bundle of records(and hopefully wins) when he leaves. He'll make this much less debatable over the next 2 years.
2. Ennis Whatley. Probably the most exciting player to play at Alabama. Ennis would have spent hours in the Sportscenter nightly highlights. He was another great UA point guard. He was the best penetrator and creator of open shots for teammates that we've had. If he had Ron Steele's outside touch, Ennis would have been an NBA All-Star. One of the first players I can recall that left college after 2 years. I suspect he'd like to go back and do it again, but he was certainly enjoyable while we had him.
3. Antoine Pettway. Leadership, Leadership, Leadership. Isn't that what PG is all about? Antoine is the best leader in the history of the program--coach or player. Fearless. Tireless. Clutch. He quarterbacked a team with solid but not great talent to the great 8--the best tournament run in UA hoops history. You look at the categories listed above with which I think you'd evaluate a PG and he was the best at one of them and probably wasn't top 3 at any other. But, he was a pure blessing for Mark Gottfried and UA hoops(think for a second about how different the CMG evaluation might be if Pett hadn't made that runner against S. Illinois...) Pett willed himself into a solid 3-point shooter. He was a pretty good ball handler. One of the least appreciated aspects of Pett's game was his ability to will the ball in the hoop from the paint in traffic. He consistently made amazing plays close to the goal. Thank god for Pett. Thrilled he is still directly associated with our program. And oh yeah...Thanks for that first year's tuition Mr. and Mrs. Pett!!!!
4. Terry Conner. Great leader. Catch the theme? Winner. Not the best shooter outside of 16 feet, but inside that range, he was deadly. Great general. Clutch performer. Best penetrator and creator of shots for others we've had. Terry just plain got it done. He had very good players around him, but other than the Hobbs era, there really hasn't been any players come through T-town that didn't have a bunch of years playing with other great players. Terry was the clear leader(and most underrated player, IMO) on the best team in UA hoops modern history(I know. Yet another debate. Bring it on 1976 people).
5. Gary Waites One of the most unfortunate knee injuries in UA sports history(with apologies to Kerry Goode and Marvin Constant). What if today's technology existed in 1988? Would Gary be further up the list and have made a great deal more money playing basketball? I say hell yes. Nevertheless, he was still a GREAT player. Gary and #5 on the list were probably more talented individually than at least 2 ranked ahead of them, but being a PG isn't as much about the individual talent, from this point of view. Gary could shoot. Great ball handler. Solid defender(but wasn't everyone other than Hollywood a very good defender under the Plaid man?). Terry was very good and he has been a friend to UA hoops long after his playing days were over.
Honorable Mention: Anthony Murray & Robert Scott & Mo Williams
That wraps up the first in the series. I welcome feedback. UA hoops history is fun for me to discuss. There have been some great times over the past 25 years thanks to these guys.