In the first installment of this analysis, I will examine the Consolation game of the Maui Invitation basketball tournament. This year's crop lives up to the usual prestige present in this historically competitive field. In the first contest of this triple header, Alabama and St. Joes matched up in a close game. Ahmad Nivins highlighted St. Joes talented group, still recovering from the collective losses of Pat Calathes and Rob Fergusen. Alabama, on the other hand, returns Ronald Steele- who has suffered through two injury plagued seasons following his tremendous debut and second year on the college basketball scene.
Alonzo Gee- This gifted physical specimen is a more-than-capable wing weapon for the Crimson Tide. While he did not showcase his perimeter shooting ability to a large extent, he was extremely effective attacking the basket. Gee's upper body strength allows him to muscle his way to the basket against virtually any college competition. He is a tremendous offensive rebounder for his size because he supplements his tremendous physicality with a knack for box-out fundamentals. Gee has a nice lift and solid fundamentals on his perimeter shot, but he is very inconsistent from the outside. He has recognized this trend and attacked the basket when his shot is not falling. Gee is one of the best putback guys in the country- and, relying on his unique ability was Alabama's best offensive strategy throughout the second half. Defensively, Gee has quick hands, but he has to be careful with reach in fouls. His positioning and quickness will allow him to succeed on this end at the next level though.
Ronald Steele- This was certainly not a characteristic performance by Ron, so I will reserve judgment until later in the season. He has not played basketball consistently for a two year period- as such, he is not used to the game. Steele's decision making was extremely sound throughout this game, seeing as he is a very intelligent player. He never really forced the issue aside from a few curious shots. He could potentially play at the next level, assuming he can regain his first step at some point in time. Otherwise, he may have to spend a long time in the D League. In this contest in particular, Steele hit a few outside shots early on, but played within himself late in the game. He demonstrated quick hands defensively and positioned himself nicely. Hopefully, his game progresses as he grows accustomed to this high level of play.
Senario Hillman- Hillman demonstrated some tremendous explosiveness and athleticism when attacking the hoop. He got around his man with reckless abandon and finished in highlight-reele fashion. Even when he failed to complete the play, he opened up the window for Green and Gee tip ins. Defensively, he has some lateral quickness and is not afraid to sky in order to block shots. His help defense is particularly good at this stage. If Hillman can improve his outside shot, he could potentially play as a backup at the next level. Honing his three pointer will be pivotal in order to guarantee a future in the league.
JaMychal Green- Green was extremely impressive against Nivins, a chiseled veteran. Even with experience working against him, Green was able to keep several plays alive simply by relying on his length and athleticism. He cleaned up several missed shots and demonstrated very nice timing and leaping ability. Despite his raw talent, he did demonstrate some positive signs in terms of footwork. Green was able to maneuver close to the basket against some challenging post defense. Defensively, like many freshman, he has a tendency to reach and is not particularly great at preventing deep post position- as a result he is foul prone. Although he has a great deal of time to mature, Green's game will translate at the next level if he is able to establish more go-to post moves and improve his post defense.
Andrew Steele- The brother of Ronald Steele has a very quick first step and is a capable slasher. He is more physically imposing than his brother, but his outside game is extremely raw. Andrew Steele has quick hands and could become a serious threat over the course of this season.
Ahmad Nivins- Nivins was arguably the best player in this contest. He was extremely efficient from the floor, living up to his billing as one of the field goal percentage leaders in all of college basketball. Nivins displayed tremendous footwork and was able to establish deep post position. Ahmad demonstrated a nice baby hook, and was able to bank a few shots off the glass. He never really forced the action despite being the clear go-to scorer for this St. Joes team. Nivins put on a clinic inside- snatching boards left and right. Defensively, Ahmad could have some difficulty at the next level. He is a threat to block shots and is intelligent enough to draw charges. However, at 6'9, he is susceptible to tip ins and should have some difficulty against longer, more athletic NBA talents. His outside jumper looked like it could translate at the next level- thus he is pretty complete on the offensive end of the floor. If Ahmad can learn to create off the dribble, he is a surefire NBA talent.
Tasheed Carr- Carr displayed some nice jets- getting up the floor and dishing to his teammates. His outside shooting was a nice compliment to Nivins's post game. He has nice body control in transition and is a solid point guard. He helped limit Steele in the second half defensively and demonstrated some nice defensive fundamentals. Carr is a bit short to play shooting guard at the next level, but he could receive some looks at Portsmouth and maybe his vision and team leadership will afford him a role in the league.