Devonta Pollard Has Big Shoes to Fill at AlabamaPosted by Brian Joyce on October 22nd, 2012
Freshman Devonta Pollard will be counted upon to be a major contributor for Alabama this season. The 6’8″ forward is replacing not one all-SEC performer, but two in departed forwards JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell. Green and Mitchell combined to contribute over 41 percent of Alabama’s scoring by themselves in helping lead the Tide to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2006 last season. Despite these high expectations, Pollard is proving he can be an effective leader in his own right.
Thus far in practice, Pollard has drawn high praise from the coaching staff. Head coach Anthony Grant is happy with what he has seen so far. “He’s doing well,” Grant said. “Obviously as a freshman, there’s a lot to learn in what the expectations are, the system and what-not, but … the veteran guys have done a good job of helping that learning curve for him. He has a very high basketball IQ as well, so he’s been able to pick things up.” Pollard has made an impression on his teammates as well. When asked how Pollard will impress fans this season, sophomore guard Levi Randolph said, “Just his energy. His skill. He can fly, he can jump, he can shoot, he can dribble. He’s going to be a great asset to the team.”
But guard Andrew Steele had even higher praise for him, comparing Pollard’s contributions to Mitchell’s. “He can fit in as a playmaker,” Steele said. “He’s a lot like Tony in the sense that we don’t have to run a lot of plays for him to make an impact. He’ll be a great rebounder, great defender, great finisher, but I think his skill level is a lot better than what I thought it was. He can really shoot and handle the ball, and he’s a good decision maker. I think he’s going to be really, really versatile.” It is not just on offense where Pollard is impressing. Steele is excited to see Pollard play in Grant’s patented full-court pressing style. “But just in terms of his athleticism and how long he is and how quick he can jump and how fast he can run, he’s been all over the place,” Steele said. “For the way we play, especially defensively and in the press, he’s going to be a nightmare for a lot of teams.”
A nightmare for other teams, but a dream come true for Alabama.
Brian Joyce is a writer for the SEC microsite and regular contributor for Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about SEC basketball at bjoyce_hoops.