RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Solomon AlabiPosted by rtmsf on June 19th, 2010
Player Name: Solomon Alabi
School: Florida State
Height/Weight: 7’1, 251
NBA Position: Center
Projected Draft Range: Mid-to-late first round
Overview: Solomon Alabi is was born in Nigeria, and grew up playing soccer. However, when it became apparent that he wasn’t going to stop growing, he was told he could earn a scholarship to play basketball in the United States so he took up basketball when he was 15. He came to the U.S. in 2005, attended the Monteverde Academy in the Orlando area (the same school that former UCLA star Luc Richard Mbah a Moute attended) and eventually wound up at Florida State. His freshman season was cut short when he needed to have surgery on a stress fracture in his right tibia, but in the last two seasons in Tallahassee, he has been a model of hard work and improvement. In nearly every area, Alabi’s numbers have improved over his career at Florida State, where he averaged a career best 11.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 2.3 BPG last season. He also improved his free throw shooting (which was an early weakness) to the point where he shot nearly 80% from the line last season.
Will Translate to the NBA: It’s true that you can’t teach height, and of that, Alabi has plenty. Add to a legit 7’1 frame a monstrous 7’5 wingspan and decent leaping ability and Alabi is an intimidating presence in the lane. And, aside from improving his offense numbers on a yearly basis at Florida State, he also put on weight and strength every year. Given his height, he is a good shot blocker, able to block shots while defending one-on-one in the post or coming over on help defense. Offensively, Alabi is a work in progress, but with his improving free throw percentage as evidence, he is capable of knocking down a mid-range jumper on occasion when in rhythm. Aside from all that stuff, Alabi is also generally described as a gregarious personality, a great teammate and a hard worker.
Needs Work: A lot. If Alabi is drafted in the first round, it will be mostly on potential. While he constantly improves (he has only been playing the game for seven years), he still looks a bit wooden out there, lacking fluidity in his post moves. Though his turnaround jumper has improved, it still needs work and a jump-hook and some post moves would be necessary for him to become even a mediocre offensive talent in the League. Even more alarming is that despite his massive frame and decent athleticism, he is a dramatically poor rebounder for his size, something that will need to change before he’ll have a chance at serious NBA minutes. Defensively, Alabi can be exposed by perimeter-oriented big men who can pull him away from the hoop and then exploit his lack of lateral quickness by driving on him.
Comparison Players: Guys like DeSagana Diop, Hasheem Thabeet and Samuel Dalembert are reasonable comparisons, players with a lot of height who can patrol the middle and block shots, grab some rebounds and aren’t much of an offensive threat otherwise — that’s the expectation for Alabi. And, given Thabeet was a #2 pick last season, getting Alabi in the back end of the first round shows either that Alabi is a great value or that Thabeet was an extreme reach.
Best Case Scenario: Ideally, Alabi winds up on a team early in his career with a great rebounder from whom he can learn a few tricks. At his size, and given his lack of marketable offensive skills, he’ll need to be at least a very good rebounder to stick in the NBA. If everything goes right for Alabi, he could wind up a starter in the NBA for a stretch, playing alongside a more offensive minded power forward, so long as he can clean the glass and patrol the paint. We have a hard time believing he’ll ever be an offensive threat, but if he can grab eight boards and block a couple or three shots every night out, he’ll have a pretty penny by the time he retires.
2013 Projection: Most likely, Alabi will be a spot player, coming in off the pine to spell a starting center, getting 10-12 minutes a night, probably picking up as many fouls as he does blocks. If he winds up in the perfect situation, maybe he splits time with another run-of-the-mill NBA center and gets 20 or so minutes a night and pulls down five or six rebounds per contest.
Best NBA Fit: Oklahoma City is a possibility, but they just picked another long-term center project last season with B.J. Mullens, and two first-round projects at the same position may be too much for one franchise to take. Atlanta would be a nice spot for Alabi to land at #24. With Al Horford currently manning the center and Zaza Pachulia providing spot minutes off the bench, Alabi would not need to be called on early in his career, but he work against those veterans in practice, honing his rebounding skills and his post play.
* Andrew Murawa contributed this draft profile to RTC