After taking a big step forward as a redshirt freshman, Solomon Alabi has slowly but surely continued to gradually improve during his third season at Florida State, showing the type of long-term potential that has placed him firmly on the draft radar this season.
It is impossible to discuss Alabi as a prospect without mentioning his physical tools, since theyíve driven the majority of his success on the college level and account for much of his NBA intrigue. Enjoying ideal height and a big wingspan for a center at the next level, Alabi has continued to add weight to his frame, something heíll need to continue to do in order to maximize his already impressive athletic profile. Couple his continued development both as a player and athlete with his already solid leaping ability and mobility, and Alabi has all the tools to be a high-level defensive player in the League.
Many of the tools that make Alabi a highly effective defensive player have also helped him on the offensive end, and while his production last season was predicated on his ability to turn and score over his man in the post thanks to his size, he has made some small strides on the offensive end despite facing some new challenges.
According to Synergy Sports Technology, Alabi has received roughly 50% of his possessions in the post this season. Though he remains very raw in regards to his ability to score from the block, and is unlikely to ever emerge as a huge scoring presence, he continues to show flashes of potential. Alabi is slowly learning how to use his size to his advantage, but hasnít been quite as efficient from the block as he was last season, still has lapses, and looks extremely mechanical with certain moves. He needs to continue to improve his footwork, expand the range of his moves, try to develop a softer touch, become quicker and more assertive on the block, and develop a wider base and better lower body strength to establish deeper post position.
The most noticeable change in Alabiís post game can be seen in his ability to score over his right shoulder. He still favors making moves to his left shoulder, but the fluidity and efficiency of his turnaround jumper have clearly improved, correcting an imbalance that was apparent last season. Across the board, Alabi has done a better job not getting in a rush when sees an opening, doing a better job recognizing opportunities to make a move to the rim and getting to the line at a higher rate because of it.
Though Alabi has looked better operating one-on-one, he still lacks a large degree of polish, looking hurried and uncoordinated when he sees an opportunity to take a quick face-up jumper. A considerably bigger threat when heís able to take a dribble, Alabi has faced double teams regularly this season as savvy coaches identify the opportunity to get his out of rhythm by throwing an addition defender into the mix. Making a fantastic move on one play and then failing to anticipate or dribbling into traffic and turning the ball over on the next, the team that drafts Alabi will need to be extremely patient with his post repertoire. He remains inconsistent, but the flashes that he shows continue to become more and more impressive as he develops. Whether he can turn such plays into consistent weapons at the NBA level will be the biggest question mark for his development moving forward.
When he isnít receiving the ball in the post, Alabi does a nice job operating from block to block, providing a big target for teammates looking to dump the ball into the past after driving into the lane. His length makes him a solid offensive rebounder, and he shows a knack for gaining position and attacking the ball at its highest point. A capable finisher at the college level, Alabi needs to improve his left hand and develop better touch on his short range shots, since his size wonít be as advantageous on the next level.
To some extent, the same can be said about the touch on his midrange jump shots. Alabi has proven capable of knocking down catch and shoot jumpers from the elbow on occasion. Looking comfortable when he has time and space, Alabi can be a factor from the midrange when heís in rhythm Ėsomething that translates into his very solid free throw shooting ability. Though heís certainly not an inside-outside threat at this point, his development in this area is intriguing, as it seems to speak to the potential of his turnaround jumper.
Defensively, Alabi is extremely effective in the paint thanks to his tremendous wingspan, playing a large part in Florida State being the top-ranked defensive team in the NCAA (according to KenPom.com) for the second straight year. Able to block shots when defending the ball one-on-one and when heís able to make a crisp rotations, he offers an intimidating defensive presence.
Though his sheer size is definitely an asset, he does have a number of bad habits. Alabi tends to gamble on occasion, trying to steal entry passes and yielding easy baskets when he canít come up with a steal. His propensity to lunge at the ball makes it hard for him to recover to his man as well.
Alabi will surely struggle against perimeter oriented big men who can take him outside and attack him off the dribble, as he lacks the agility and lateral quickness to move his feet very effectively outside the paint, looking very upright in his stance. Having Alabi camp out in the paint in a zone is one way his team can overcome this issue, but unfortunately the defensive three second rule does not allow this tactic in the NBA.
In addition to making some subtle changes to his approach on the defensive end, Alabi needs to continue to get stronger to help his ability to protect the rim and crash the glass at the next level. He is a very poor defensive rebounder at the moment, ranking amongst the worst at his position amongst likely draft prospects, something that is a bit disappointing considering his terrific physical tools.
Alabi still lacks a large degree of coordination and awareness, being unable to track down loose balls in the air and go out of his area to secure extra possessions for his team, and its perhaps here (as well as with his poor passing ability) that these weaknesses show up the most.
Considering how far Alabi has come in recent seasons, it wouldnít be surprising to see him improve considerably over the next few years. The fact that he's consistently described as a fantastic teammate, worker and overall person is clearly a major plus when projecting his development. Whether the next jump comes in preparation of another season at Florida State or his rookie year in the NBA remains to be seen. Regardless of when he declares, heíll factor into the conversation to be one of the top centers selected thanks to his outstanding size and learning curve. Whoever picks him will have to be committed to developing him and willing to be patient as he experiences a steep learning curve in his first few seasons in the NBA. [Read Full Article]
Top NBA Draft Prospects in the ACC Part One (#1-5) October 18, 2009 Jonathan Givony
After missing most of his first year of college basketball with a stress fracture in his foot, Solomon Alabi came back as a redshirt freshman and played an integral role in the excellent season Florida State managed to put together. With some solid experience underneath his belt now, NBA scouts will be looking to see if Alabi can break out as a sophomore and emerge as one of the most interesting long-term NBA prospects in the ACC.
Alabi stands out first and foremost at the college level thanks to his terrific size and length. He measured out at 6-11 in shoes with a tremendous 7-5 wingspan at the Nike Hoop Summit in 2008[/url], and has the type of frame that should be able to put on a good amount of weight, giving him no shortcomings at all as far as an NBA center is concerned. Heís not what you would call a terribly explosive player, but he is fairly mobile, running the court well and being capable of getting off his feet to finish plays and block shots.
Offensively, Alabi is not a huge scoring threat at this point, but he does show some nice characteristics that leave some room for optimism moving forward. The overwhelming majority of his offense comes within a few feet of the basket, where he is a fairly reliable presence thanks to his solid hands and decent touch, and can score some points with a nice looking jump-hook or just using his length and mobility to finish at the rim. He lacks the type of coordination, polish and feel that only comes through extended playing time over the course of a number of years, but did look more and more comfortable on this end of the floor as the season moved on.
One place where that seemed to show up the most was in his ability to face the basket, where Alabi displayed some small, but encouraging sparks of potential in his ability to step outside and knock down a 15-foot jumper. While no one should be running to call him the next Chris Bosh, it was interesting to see him confidently attempt a jumper from time to time, with mostly positive results.
Alabi is not much of a passer as you would probably imagine, garnering one assist for every five turnovers he commits. Once he makes his mind up about the move heís going to make, he doesnít see much else besides the basket, leading to some awkward moments where he avoids his left hand like the plague or is forced into throwing up a bad shot from a tough angle. Once he improves his lower body strength he should be able to do a better job holding his position on the block, and similarly, better upper body strength will make it easier for him to finish strong in traffic.
Probably the most positive sign about Alabi is that he plays hard and seems to have a pretty good understanding of the game, despite his lack of experience. Watching him play, you canít help feel like he wants to help his team any way he can, which is definitely not something you can say about many big men with a similar profile. The aggressiveness he shows on the court definitely bodes well for his future, and surely part of the credit for that should go to the coaches that worked with him both at Florida State and Montverde Academy.
The Seminoles were one of the best defensive teams in college basketball last season, and having an anchor like Alabi guarding the rim (if only for 22 minutes per game) definitely played a big part in that. His tremendous size and length makes him a huge presence in the paint, allowing him to change and send back shots on almost every possession heís on the floor. He averaged an impressive 3.7 blocks per-40 minutes pace adjusted in his first full season of college basketball, good for 10th best amongst all prospects in our database last season. He shows pretty good timing and patience staying home and not biting excessively on pump-fakes, even if he can always continue to make strides in this area from a fundamentals standpoint. He can definitely stand to get stronger as mentioned already in both his upper and lower body, but already displays a good activity level and a solid understanding of how to operate on this end of the floor. He also does a pretty good job of moving his feet out on the perimeter, looking capable of hedging screens effectively and recovering, which is a nice thing to have from your 7-footer.
As far as rebounding is concerned, its tough to argue with the 10-boards per-40 minutes pace adjusted that Alabi averaged last year, but still, there is reason to expect that he can continue to improve here as well as his fundamentals improve and he learns more about the nuances of going after loose balls. Alabi's disposition as a shot-blocker at times leaves him out of position in terms of securing the defensive glass, but this is a trade-off that his coaches are probably willing to live with. Still, it wouldn't be out of the question to see him raise his rebounding averages closer to the 11-12 rebounds per-40 range this upcoming season.
All in all, Alabi is a pretty exciting prospect who is bound to draw high-level NBA talent evaluators to every game he plays at. Heís nowhere near a finished product at this point, but is already showing enough potential in a variety of different areas, making you wonder just how much more he will improve this upcoming season. If Alabi continues along the same path heís on, itís not out of the question that he develops into a very high draft pick. [Read Full Article] U-19 World Championship Review: Big Men August 29, 2007 Alabi made an impression among the audience with his incredible combination of length and athleticism. Standing 7-1, the Nigerian center is a skinny kid with an underdeveloped body, but shows a very decent frame to work with and enjoys an excellent wingspan.
Skill-wise, he's also a very raw player. His low post game shows some promise, but his footwork needs a lot of work. And still he tries and keeps a certain poise playing down low. Right handed, if he goes left from the post he primarily looks for a pass, actually showing a decent ability to find his teammates; going to the right, he can opt for a turnaround jumpshot, and also seems to have some ability to release a short hook, but looks extremely inconsistent. Still, the good news is that he's a pretty tough guy who doesn't avoid contact, although he's certainly limited by his skinny body.
Alabi can eventually face the basket to attack his opponents, always from short distances, where he doesn't need to dribble much, but shows a nice first step. He can also play off the ball and likes to explode for the dunk if he has the opportunity. Very active looking for the rebound, he tries to put back, again with a dunk, everything that falls in his lap on the offensive glass, which is sometimes a bad option since he often doesn't always enjoy the best position to do so. Actually you always have the feeling that part of his efforts are headed towards impressing the audience rather than being effective on the basketball court.
Intense and aggressive, Alabi is capable of diving for a loose ball. He's always alert to block any opponent's shot near the basket. He can get really high thanks to his combination of length and leaping ability. Alabi is pretty much all about physical gifts, and not so much about basketball IQ, but anyway, he's a player with nice potential to keep under the radar. [Read Full Article]
Nike Hoop Summit World Team Player Recap (Part Two) April 13, 2007 Alabi entered the week as the sole international player with a great deal of experience against the American style of basketball. The 7 footer played high school basketball in the United States over the past two years, and is generally ranked in the top 40 by most recruiting services.
As practice began, it was easy to notice Alabiís potential due to size and athleticism alone. In addition to his height and length, the Nigerian also has a great body for a high schooler as well as freakish vertical leaping ability. As the practices began, it was clear that he will likely take advantage of those features to become a great shot blocker someday. He already shows good instincts in this area, and this will only improve as he becomes more accustomed to help rotations on the defensive end.
Offensively, Alabi displayed a very nice hook shot with his right hand during the first practice, but he used the shot less and less as the week progressed. He instead decided to rely on a face-up jumper the rest of the week, a move that worked ok in some of the practices, but didnít translate to the game.
In the game, Alabi displayed his explosive leaping ability with an aggressive dunk inside, but otherwise struggled throughout the game trying to find his jump shot. He managed to gain 4 free throw attempts by playing inside, but seemed content turning and shooting the rest of the game. Defensively, Alabi displayed his potential as a shot blocker with a rejection on Kevin Love. During the 14 minutes of playing time, he managed to block 3 shots, while showing good leaping ability and anticipation.
Overall, Solomon Alabi remains a raw big man, but with very good potential. He must improve his left hand on the offensive end, as well as develop footwork on the low block. At Florida State, his shot blocking will be noticed from the day he puts on his uniform, but the number of years he goes to college will totally depend on his rate of development on the other end of the floor. [Read Full Article] Nike Hoop Summit Practices-- World Team (Day 4) April 7, 2007 Solomon Alabi had his worst practice to date, struggling with nearly everything he attempted on the offensive end. He has rarely used his hook shot since the first day of practice, and it rimmed out the one time it was attempted today. On the block, he continues to try the turnaround jumper as a main offensive threat. Unfortunately, this wasnít working out for him today either, and the accuracy of this shot increases greatly outside 12 feet. Alabi continued to show good potential as a shot blocker and his length and explosive leap came in handy defensively throughout the week. [Read Full Article]
Nike Hoop Summit Practices-- World Team (Day 3) April 6, 2007 Solomon Alabi sat out part of the morning practice with a headache, but played well during his minutes in the scrimmage. He displayed great vertical leaping ability on both ends of the floor. On offense he can catch nearly any pass inside, and this led to several aggressive dunks throughout the game. Defensively, he displayed better shot blocking instincts than he showed earlier in the week, and effected a number of shots while playing help defense. Alabi didnít really do anything in terms of creating his own offense today. The turn-around jumper that had been solid for him in the post the past couple days wasnít falling, and he didnít attempt a hook shot at any point during the scrimmage. [Read Full Article] Nike Hoop Summit Practices-- World Team (Day 2) April 5, 2007 Solomon Alabi didnít use his hook shot as effectively today, but he was able to knock down some jump shots out to 15 feet. His shooting form appears to be awkward, and his shot is flat, but his shot was effective enough for him to knock down nearly every time he was open. Alabi weighed in at 237 pounds, and one of the scouts in attendance compared his to Antonio McDyess in terms of build and body. In the post, he will need to learn to read the defense and pass it out when he is double teamed. Still, Alabi has good hands and a very explosive vertical leap. He should contribute at Florida State right away, and it isnít totally out of the realm of possibility for him to go one and done. [Read Full Article]
Nike Hoop Summit Practices-- World Team (day one) April 3, 2007 Florida State recruit Solomon Alabi from Nigeria also had a good practice with the world select team. He appears to be a legit 7í1Ē with a very good frame for an incoming college freshman. Offensive, he generally scores in one of two ways. In the post, he has a very nice hook shot with a high release point, and he displayed great touch with this move today. The other way Alabi scored was by catching the ball and dunking it near the basket. Good hands and above average leaping ability make him a constant threat to score near the basket, be it off a pick and roll, offensive rebound, or flash cut to the hoop. In terms of footwork, Alabi has good fundamentals, but will need to work on developing counter moves. On a few possessions he tried to convert 10 foot jumpers on a spin move back to the middle. The move itself looked good, but his jumper needs some work at this point. Defensively, his length will be a great advantage to him and the Seminoles. His timing and anticipation will need some improvement, but Alabiís long arms and leaping ability give him nice upside in this area. Solomon Alibi has nice polish for an athletic center coming out of high school, but he has a ways to go before he can start thinking about the NBA Draft. It will be interesting to watch him progress throughout the rest of the week. [Read Full Article]