2018-19 player review
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  1. #1
    BamaNation All-American
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    Big A 2018-19 player review

    Here is my opinion of each player and what is needed from each this season. I don't claim to be any kind of expert, I just enjoy UA basketball and long for the day when we are respected again nationally (we're almost there now). I may come across as a bit pessimistic (overly critical?) in some cases but overall I'm somewhat optimistic about the upcoming season. I'm starting with the seniors and working my way down the list by class.

    1) Donta Hall - IMHO he is one of the 2 or 3 keys to how successful we will be this season. This is his 4th year in the program and we've seen progress each of those year. Hall has his strengths: blocking shots, rebounding, and dunking, but also weaknesses: no consistent threat to score more than a few feet from the goal, usually dominated by more physical guys. If he has developed as a scoring threat from 10-15 feet in that would be tremendous for the team as well as his NBA potential. He also needs to show up every game for the entire game. At times the past 2 seasons he has looked like an NBA draft pick and then other times has completely disappeared. We need him to be consistent this season.

    2) AJ Jr - I've never been as critical as some of AJjr because he is what he is, a valuable role player that can give us 7-10 minutes a game and sometimes more when needed. He is too short to be any more than that but he is hustles and provides good leadership. He's not a full-time starter in the SEC but a valuable backup PG.

    3) Riley Norris - I think Riley's biggest role this season may be providing senior leadership on the team. At times last year we could have used that and perhaps redshirted someone like Alex Reese. Norris is a role player and nothing more, not that that's a bad thing. The talent level has picked up dramatically since Norris' freshman season so his minutes may be somewhat limited. If he is a 7-10 minute per game, with the occasional 15-20 minute game sprinkled in then that probably means the season is going well. I like Norris but I think there are much more talented guys than him on the team that should get more minutes than he does. If he can outperform them and get more minutes on sheer hustle and determination then more power to him.

    4) Daniel Giddens - Possibly the most frustrating player on the team. He appears to have a ton of ability (looks like Tarzan) but could not stay out of foul trouble (plays like Jane) to get any real playing time. Also at times last year his body language was not good. He seemed to have been suspended in some way near the end of the season and was very limited in his minutes. When he did get in the Villanova game (I think it was Villanova) after not playing the previous 2-3 games he seemed to be very motivated and looked as good as he had at any point during the season. The reports from the open scrimmage a couple of weeks ago were that he looked much improved. I hope to see that in games. If so he could be a very valuable asset as our inside game concerns me greatly.

    5) Dazon Ingram - Dazon is one of those guys that just does not seem to have a true position. He is not a true PG, SG, or SF even though he can, and will, play any of those positions. He is a valuable member of the team that we need because of his versatility. What limits him is his lack of athletic ability. If I were going to criticize him (perhaps the S&C coach deserves the criticism more than Dazon) is that up to this point he seemingly has not added any desperately needed strength. I don't know how many times I saw him drive the lane and just not be able to finish around the goal because of his lack of physical strength. I hope he has worked on this during the offseason as well as his outside shot, if not then I can see his minutes becoming more limited as the more talented guys move ahead of him.

    6) Tevin Mack - One of the top 3 keys to how the season will go. I hope that CAJ hasn't made a mistake by hyping him too much awhile back. I'm sure I've seen him play while he was at Texas but I don't remember him so this review is based strictly on the hype. It was reported that Tevin was very, very good in practice last year and had the look of a future NBA draft pick. I'm going to take CAJ at his work and assume that Tevin will take over the role of Sexton and be that guy that can put us on his shoulders when necessary. The danger is that Tevin does not live up to the hype in some way and he is being counted on to do too much. Time will tell.

    7) Herb Jones - Another key to how the season goes and someone that I am cautiously optimistic will have a breakout year. He needs to have added strength during the offseason and worked on his offense. I'm not sure how I feel about the S&C coach (DeNeen?) and how this team looks going into the season will tell me whether or not a change needs to be made in that area. Herb is a guy that has NBA future written all over him and the better his offensive game becomes the more highly he will be drafted. His defensive skills are as good as any player I've seen at UA since at least Keith Askins and that alone will probably get him to the league but any improvement to his offense will just be icing on the cake. If he makes a big leap this season he could be a 2-and-done guy which would be a great recruiting tool for CAJ to use.

    8) John Petty - Another frustrating player, at times he can light it up and other times he can't hit the ocean if he was standing in it. He has all the tools but is very raw and is yet another guy that needs to add strength and work on rounding out his game. He can be as good as he wants to be. If he wants to have an NBA career then he needs to work his tail off to reach his potential. If he hasn't improved then I'm not sure he should not slip down the depth chart a bit to send him a message.

    9) Alex Reese - I like Alex Reese and hope that the reports are true that he has dropped some weight. He is not the most athletic guy but his basketball instincts seem to be very good. He needs to work on being more of a 4 because he is not athletic enough to be a 3 but he can be a 4 that still is able to step out and shoot the 3 which would be a nightmare for opponents.

    10) Galin Smith - In most situations it would have been ideal if Galin could have reshirted last year but he had to play out of necessity (lack of interior depth) and was a pleasant surprise, especially at the end of the season. I'm not sure who he reminds me, perhaps a more raw version of Erwin Dudley? If he continues to improve I can see him becoming our most consistent interior player.

    11) Kira Lewis - I like Lewis a lot. I saw him play in high school and was blown away although the competition in that particular game was not the best. However, he obviously was very, very talented and could have easily scored 50+ points if his coach had allowed him to. His summer was apparently very impressive and his rankings were shooting up the charts. I was counting on him being possibly our top signee this next season and was pleasantly surprised when he reclassified and signed this season instead. It became even more important when the rumors about Jared Butler were proven to be true and Butler left the program. I was counting on Butler being the starting PG on day 1 so now that expectation has shifted (somewhat) to Lewis. As talented as he is, he is still 17 years old and will almost certainly need the majority of the season to settle in. It is MUCH different going to Rupp and playing UK than going to Grissom HS. He is going to be a fantastic player at some point in his career but it may not be this year. I hope it is. Once he gets rolling we're going to be a much better team. The PG position is a major concern of mine on this team and Lewis can be the answer, it's just a matter of when. I know Herb can run the point but I'm not convinced that is the best use of his ability and having someone with Lewis' ability running the point with Herb at 2, and Tevin Mack at 3 has me salivating.

    12) Javian Fleming - I don't know much about Fleming so I'm just waiting to see what he can do. If he doesn't redshirt (I don't expect him to) my hope is that he can give us some minutes like Smith did last year and continue to improve as the season goes along. It would be a tremendous boost to our interior game if he comes more polished and ready than Smith last year but I don't know enough about Fleming to know if that is realistic or not.

    13) Diante Wood - Like Fleming I don't know much about him. I did stream his state championship game and thought he looked like a versatile player that could develop into a good player, possibly a Jim Farmer type of player. He played at a 1A HS (as did Jim Farmer) so he was bigger and better than the opponent and is tough to judge how good he really is. He was dominant in the championship game and played both inside and outside but will be a 2, 3, or hybrid 2/3 in college which is why I'm comparing him to Jim Farmer. He has an injury that will almost certainly force him to redshirt this season so it will probably be next year before we see him play.

    14) Lawson Schaffer - I normally would not include walk-on's but Lawson is everyone's favorite player. I really do like Lawson and there are times I think he should get more minutes. He has given us a spark more than once and I remember there was at least one game where I don't think we would have won without him.

    There are a lot of parts and potential on this team. It could be a very good year or it could be a very disappointing year. I can see us finishing anywhere from 5 to 10 in the SEC and even at 10 we could still have a legitimate shot at making the NCAA tourney. My hope is that almost everything falls into place, Tevin Mack is the player that we've been hearing about, Hall has rounded out his game and shows up to play every night, Jones makes that big leap forward, Lewis matures quickly, etc, this would be a VERY fun team to watch.

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  3. #2
    BamaNation All-American
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    Re: 2018-19 player review

    Pretty good analysis for the most part. I am not sure Galin Smith is not the best player in the post this season. Frankly Hall may be better as a 4 than a 5 anyway. Looking at the roster we finally have more than 2 bigs so that can't help but make us better. Don't sleep on Reese. He may be the X factor at the as a stretch 4. I think getting solid production from Tevin Mack and Herb Jones are essential. Petty can be good, but is streaky and turnover prone. Dazon may be the opening day point guard or even AJ jr. Heck, you could even see Lawson play more this year. Whoever it is needs to limit turnovers. If we can limit those, we can be very good. If not, it will be a long year. Kira Lewis is an exceptional talent, but I worry about his size.

    I think the keys this year are rebounding and finding a solid option at the point. Assuming we can do these, it could be a really fun year.

    Don't forget there is an exhibition game tonight. Montevallo at 7. We'll know more after tonight, but Coach Johnson will be looking for a rotation more than anything so the results may not be exactly what everyone expects. I think we'll win, but I am not sure it will be a blowout.
    Last edited by Rama Jama; October 30th, 2018 at 12:38 PM.

  4. #3
    BamaNation First Team RammaJamma10's Avatar
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    Re: 2018-19 player review

    Really excited to have Riley Norris back this season. He is a high energy guy who always seems to be in the right place for rebounding, and can provide a consistent shooter when on the floor. I view him as a poor man's Kevin Love type player. Looking for him to provide that steady demeanor when other teams make a run at us and keep the panic from happening.

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