| ||By Jay Bilas|
Special to ESPN.com
Friday, Oct. 13
Alabama had more bad luck with regard to injuries than any team in the SEC last season. But in the recruiting arena, the
Crimson Tide didn't lose a step.
Mark Gottfried pulled in a nice recruiting class that features perhaps the most explosive freshman in the nation -- Gerald Wallace.
With a healthy team, Alabama could be this season's LSU. Still, this team needs to learn what it takes to win, and it is a year away
from being the type of team Gottfried wants to bring to Tuscaloosa.
The Tide lost Jeremy Hays early last season and never really recovered from it.
Hays is a focal point in the interior and a good low-post scorer and rebounder. He has experienced foot problems, and his knee is not completely back to where it was. If healthy, Hays can be a solid performer, and he will provide consistent numbers from game to game.
Sophomore Kenny Walker was another of coach Mark Gottfried's walking wounded last season. He's a wiry inside player who has good hands and the ability to block shots. He is active around the basket but still needs to play
stronger around the goal.
Sophomore Erwin Dudley is a very good rebounder and defender. He, too, has very nice athletic skills that resulted in nice numbers last season (10.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 49 percent FGs). Dudley made the most of his opportunity with Hays and Walker out, showing he was more than a good athlete. Dudley has some slippery post moves and can really run the court.
The gem of this team is going to be 6-foot-7 freshman Gerald Wallace, a McDonald's All-American who can run, jump and attack the basket with dunks over anyone in the college game. Wallace still needs to learn how to play
the game with other people, but he is absolutely without fear in taking the
ball to the goal.
Wallace will excite the entire league with his incredible athletic ability. Another freshman, Reggie Rambo, won't be as much an impact, but he is a good rebounder who could see time on the frontline.
Tarik London is the point guard who'll once again lead the Crimson Tide attack.
He led the Crimson Tide in assists but did so on a team that had 162 more turnovers than assists on the season. London (3.7 ppg, 3.8 apg) is a good position defender and has a pass-first mentality. But he is not a good shooter.
Terrence Meade, however, is a very good shooter and shoots a better percentage from outside
the arc than inside it -- 41 vs. 42 percent. Meade (11.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg) is a very good
athlete, who uses a quick release to get off his shot and is able to handle the ball
well enough to play the point.
Sophomore Rod Grizzard (13.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 38 percent FGs) is a 6-7 swing guard who is a highlight reel on the floor. Grizzard is not a great shooter, but he's a scorer who is very intense and can take the ball to the basket. However, as gifted as Grizzard is in attacking the basket, he often settles for jump shots.
Well over half of Grizzard's shots were three-pointers last season. He needs to be more selective. The leff-hander is a tremendous leaper and is learning to move without the ball. But he must be prepared to make a move before the ball gets to him. If he improves his shooting range and shot selection, Grizzard can be a great player.
Terrance "Doc" Martin is a senior guard who has been recovering from a broken foot, but he should be ready to play this season. Martin (6.7 ppg) is a capable player who defends well. He can start or come off the bench. Freshmen Demetrius Smith and Antoine Pettaway round out the guards.
|Tarik London will have plenty of options to dish to on offense, but he has to take care of the ball better this season.|
The Crimson Tide have a great future. If Wallace spurns the NBA again that future might be now. The key
for Alabama, aside from staying healthy, will be to get quality guard play, take better shots and take better care of the ball. If the Crimson Tide take an attitude of being collective stoppers, this team can make some noise in the SEC.