Friday, October 04, 2019

2019-20 Roster Preview: Forwards/Centers

With Donta Hall wrapping up his college career, Alabama lost last season's leading rebounder, shot blocker and second-leading scorer. Nate Oats prefers a quicker, perimeter-oriented type of basketball that spreads the floor, but all teams still require some size in the middle. But who will fill that role with Donta gone? Whoever fills it will need to be more than just a big body; he'll need to be able to run the floor, rebound and show some diversity on the offensive end.

While the team has a lot of talent at the guard and wing positions, there are question marks in the post. Rebounding was one of the primary weaknesses for Alabama the last two seasons, and it would appear to be a concern at first glance this season. With the depth at the guard position, none of the guys listed here have to be stars, just dependable role players. If someone emerges as a star, all the better to win basketball games, my dear. Let's take a quick look at those players. Once again, the heights/weights are those listed at the official site.

James Rojas - 6'8 - 215 lbs - Junior: It wouldn't be an Alabama basketball offseason without some bad news, and unfortunately that bad news (so far) was that Rojas - an incoming juco recruit - suffered a knee injury and will not play this season. The team has time to adjust to his absence, but losing a guy that was a juco All-American is less than ideal. For a team that's light on big bodies, losing a 6'8 inside/out player that seemed tailor-made for the type of basketball Nate Oats wants to play may come back to haunt the team as the season unfolds.

Javian Davis - 6'9 - 268 lbs - RS Freshman: Javian suffered a knee injury early last season, seemingly recovered, but took a redshirt anyway. The year off appears to have been good for him from a physical standpoint; he's slimmed down considerably, and added some muscle to his frame. Javian is a skilled player capable of making plays facing the basket, and he exhibited good hands and footwork in high school. Adding more stamina as a result of his physical transformation to the skills he already possesses should increase his chances of playing time this season.

Alex Reese - 6'9 - 238 lbs - Junior: All signs point to this being a potential breakout year for Alex. In my opinion, he was vastly underused last season; another frustrating example of the nonsensical player rotations we all grumbled about. Alex seems perfect for the style of play that Oats wants to employ: he can shoot the ball, he's a good outlet passer, a capable rebounder, and his skill set means he can play multiple spots on the floor. Like Javian, Alex slimmed down in the offseason, and he looks like a completely different player as a result. This should help him on both ends of the floor. Yes, he could shoot last season, but that's, more or less, all he could (or wanted) to do. Now that he's in better shape, the hope is he can make more plays off the dribble, be a more reliable rebounder, and stay in front of people on the defensive end. His 18-19 stats: 6.3 pts, 2.5 rebs, 37.5% from 3.

Juwan Gary - 6'5 - 220 lbs - Freshman:  The third of three top 125 recruits joining the team this season, Juwan is from Columbia, South Carolina. Rated a four-star coming out of high school, Juwan was the 2nd ranked player in South Carolina according to 247. As a senior, he averaged 25 pts, 7 rebs and 2 blks. It's uncertain how large of a role Juwan will have in his freshman season, but his athleticism alone is going to give him a chance to earn playing time. 

Tyler Barnes - 6'8 - 201 lbs - Junior: Tyler is a walk-on from Louisville, Kentucky. He appeared in four games last season.

Galin Smith - 6'9 - 240 lbs - Junior: Galin seems like the most obvious choice for early playing time at the 5 due to his experience. He's a below-the-rim player that won't wow you with athleticism or a skill set, but he's been a steady role player for two years. With the depth that Alabama has at guard, Galin likely won't be expected to step up his role significantly on the offensive end. But it is important that Galin (as well as the other post players) is more of a physical presence on defense, particularly on the glass (only an average of 2.1 rebounds per game in two seasons). His 18-19 stats: 3.8 pts, 2.2 rebs, 0.5 blks.

Raymond Hawkins - 6'9 - 240 lbs - Freshman: Raymond is originally from Oakland, California, but transferred to Findlay Prep in Nevada for his final year of high school. Rated a 3-star and ranked in the top 200 by 247, Raymond was the first signee of the Nate Oats era. In his one season at Findlay Prep, he averaged 14.9 pts, 5.9 rebs, and 1.1 asts. He may need some time to develop, but the team's lack of size will present opportunities for him to earn some playing time.   

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