With regular season games not starting until November 19th in Georgia, I went to Alabama for 3 days earlier this week to see some of their initial games of the 2020-21 season. The lineup included Vestavia Hills-Minor on Tuesday, Oak Mountain-Wenonah on Wednesday, and Spain Park-Calera on Thursday. Here’s some of what was seen in these 3 matchups.
75-44 Win vs. Minor
Vestavia wasted no time jumping on Minor in their matchup Tuesday night. The Rebels were harassing their opponents all over the place defensively, forcing turnover after turnover to get a big lead early on in the game. Their personnel is well-equipped for the full-court, trapping defensive style they utilized; Vestavia has a bunch of pesky and athletic guards who fly around and cause disruption in the backcourt. Minor lacked ball-handlers and there just wasn’t much that could be done to negate the impact of Vestavia’s pressure.
The Rebels brought this same type of energy and aggression on offense; when they weren’t getting transition baskets they looked to get downhill nonstop after weave action on the perimeter. Win Miller, a Top 3 2023 prospect in Alabama, led the way with 23 points. His production came as no surprise after watching him do similar things over the summer, but he did show some strides in his game. Miller showed some evident progress in his explosiveness and has kept adding muscle to his frame. He got up to and above the rim a few different times and was not deterred by physical play when he tried to finish. Miller didn’t have to display a whole lot else in this blowout game, but I was told he went for 27-8-8 in a close win over Chelsea two nights later. He already has an offer from Samford and could end up being recruited at an even higher level than that.
Alongside Miller are a plethora of interchangeable 2022 perimeter guys who should be consistent and reliable pieces for Vestavia this winter. This group includes Jude Cleary, Reese Gurner, Alex Armstrong, and Cole Turner. Cleary and Gurner look like they have the ability to play at both guard spots for the Rebels. Both are capable shooters from the outside but are not afraid to go inside and surprise some people with their finishing ability. Armstrong is a taller shooter who gets off clean looks with a soft shot at 6’6″ and should provide a nice rebounding boost for the team also. A springy 6’2″ athlete who also plays football, Turner gives energy and physical play on both sides of the ball to go along with low-maintenance offensive production.
6’10” PF Will Shaver (2022/Oak Mountain)
23 points, 14 rebounds, 2 blocks, 9-12 FT against Wenonah in a 61-42 win
After a great summer with Pro One’s 17U team in which he picked up around 10 offers, Shaver looks like he’s continuing to elevate his game. With some key football players out in this game and then Wilder Evers suffering an injury early on, Shaver came with an aggressive approach that you want to see from a player of his caliber. He went to the rim with authority more than a few times on the night and drew fouls at will with his body that absorbs contact easily. Shaver showed the ability to step out on the perimeter and put the ball on the floor with either hand effectively, a trait rare for a guy his size. He is also a good passer both on the block and when facing up. His outside shot wasn’t falling versus Wenonah so he made sure to impose his will on them in the paint, using a variety of tools to get what he wanted. While having to do a lot on the offensive end, it was good to see how he still remained active as a rebounder for the undermanned Oak Mountain team. Shaver seems to be asserting himself more and developing more of an alpha mentality, which should take his game to the next level. His recruitment and status nationally are due for another uptick. Wake Forest offered Shaver tonight.
6’2″ SG Brady Dunn (2022/Oak Mountain)
18 points (6 made 3’s), 4 rebounds, 3 blocks against Wenonah in a 61-42 win
Dunn was a huge boost for the Eagles on Wednesday night, giving them a dangerous outside threat immediately. He stole the show in the 1st half of the game and it helped to take some pressure of of Shaver. All 6 of Dunn’s 3’s came in the game’s first 2 quarters as he hit 5 in the 1st quarter and then another in the 2nd. He does a good job of staying active off the ball and finding open spots to position himself well for perimeter shooting opportunities and carries a shot that has range and gets it off quickly. When Dunn wasn’t hitting shots in the 2nd half, he stayed involved by going to the boards and helping Shaver with the rebounding load, and also came up with a few impressive blocks. It was good to see that his energy didn’t fall off once his hot shooting wasn’t there anymore.
6’3″ W Isaiah Green (2021/Calera)
16 points (2 made 3’s), 6 rebounds, 4 steals against Spain Park
Green’s two-way impact against Spain Park was evident all night and helped to ease some of the pain of losing Duke Chambers the previous game. Calera had 5 other guys score at least 6 points in the game, so when Green wasn’t needed offensively, he made sure to stay involved defensively. He has long arms, moves well, and is good at anticipating, making him a problem in the passing lanes. It seemed like he was always getting a hand in for deflections or making guys think twice about passing once he racked up a few steals. Green has a defined upper-body and hauls in traffic boards well for a 6’3″ player. Offensively, he gave Spain Park some matchup problems on the wing. Green can handle from the outside and uses his physical advantages on smaller defenders. He utilizes spin moves, shields the ball from guys, and initiates contact in traffic. Green is another one with a football background and those athletic attributes were on display against Spain Park, as well as some respectable skill.
6’8″ PF Colin Turner (2022/Spain Park)
10 points, 14 rebounds, 3 blocks against Calera in a 61-56 win
Even when he isn’t giving you points, Turner is a really valuable piece because of his physical nature and toughness down low. He cleaned the glass for Spain Park throughout their matchup with Calera, securing boards on both ends while having to deal with swiping hands and flying bodies from the opposition. Turner has continued to bulk up and is able to fend off opponents without much issue. This quality allows him to stay poised and not rushed when operating on the interior offensively, where he fights through traffic and displays solid footwork. The way he keeps his motor going even while having to deal with tiring physical play is something you don’t see from many high school bigs. Although not the quickest off his feet, Turner plays above the rim powerfully and shows different parts to his skillset that leads one to believe he’ll be a serious offensive threat once he puts it all together. I’m interested to see where his recruitment heads.
5’9″ G Josh Harrington (2022/Spain Park)
12 points (2 made 3’s), 4 rebounds, 2 assists against Calera in a 61-56 win
Anyone who knows me knows that I love heart-over-height guys and that’s exactly what Harrington fits. He was probably the smallest guy on the court on Thursday night but that didn’t stop him from leaving his imprint on the game. Harrington is a scrappy guard with speed who isn’t afraid at all. There were multiple occasions where he fought hard for loose balls against guys that were considerably bigger than him. Harrington’s fast, energetic style fit the up-tempo game well as he was constantly involved in the action with both his penetration and outside shooting ability. Their team has multiple guys on the perimeter and he’s able to complement them well. A crafty, difficult layup in traffic from him to put Spain Park ahead down the stretch proved to be the deciding basket in the Jaguars’ win.