"Good game last night" I told him as I offered a hand. He grinned and mine was swallowed like
a guppy going in a grouper. It was startling. Not because of size but because it was like shaking
hands with the limb of an oak. Calloused, long and strong. A quick smile and he was gone.
They say you can tell much of a man by a handshake. A hand calloused this way is evidence of long
hard labor. A worker.
There is a lot of variation among projections by those who have followed Solomon Alabi's career at
Florida State. One constant among them all is he works hard to get better.
TrueCubbie is a regular contributor to tomahawknation.com and a numbers man who regularly elucidates.
He recently contributed to a Thunder blog site an article much like the "Know the Prospect" series here that
discussed Solomon Alabi. His conclusion? I'll quote his article and offer my own impression. After the jump-
First here's the article by TrueCubbie for his take word for word.
1. What type of player is Solomon Alabi?
Solomon is your typical athletically gifted, raw seven foot center. His defensive skills are far
ahead of his offensive ability. Additionally, he needs to get stronger, which is no easy feat for
a seven footer. Solomon only started playing organized basketball during his junior year of high
school, which is when he first arrived in the United States. He also received a medical redshirt
his freshman year. Adding all of that up results in a relatively 'inexperienced' player, which at
times shows up in his play on the court. That said he is very aggressive on the defensive end of
the court and was one of the best shot blockers in the country. His timing is outstanding and he
really is a difference maker on defense. If you watch him play, you will see that he needs to have
better footwork and confidence when he is getting established on the low post. Given his relatively
short duration of a basketball career, it is not surprising that his offensive skills lag behind his
defense. Though, he should signs of significant improvement this year and could turn into a complete
I'll recap his actual on the floor experience- 2 years HS and 2.33 years college
At a reported 7'1 and 250 with a wingspan of 7'3 to 7'5 depending who you believe and a standing reach of
9'1 he has the physical stature necessary to defend the rim and is aggresive in doing so..so much so that
it often leaves him out of position to rebound.
2. Based on what you know, do you think he'll be an NBA caliber player? If so, who would you compare him to?
Alabi has the athletic ability and potential to develop into a difference maker in the NBA. However, the likes
of Hasheem Thabeet and Roy Hibbert should be in one's mind when thinking about Solomon's NBA career. If he can develop the lower body strength, he'll get regular minutes. But, it is hard to see him trying to post up
against a Shaq or Howard. He is an incredibly gifted free throw shooter and could be used in late game
situations. There is certainly the possibility that he will develop into a NBA caliber player, but he is an
investment for the future. Granted, as a Chicago Bulls fan, I never thought Noah would turn into the kind of
player he was this year. So, hard to really predict, but his impact will not be immediate.
I believe Solomon can contribute defensively his first year. Much beyond that would be gravy. The free
throw shooting is significant as it is rather rare among NBA centers and he exhibited the ability to knock
them down with the game on the line as well. I think his ceiling could be more like another Nigerian native,
Hakeem Olajuwon They do have a lot in common. Both were soccer players who took up basketball late in life.
Solomon was a striker. He is also reported to enjoy handball, tennis and ping-pong.
Solomon Alabi FSU Basketball Feature
Here Alabi knocks down 2 shots in the final minute of the game to help FSU overcome Marquette
in the finals of the 2009 Old Spice Classic in Orlando. He spent most of the game on the bench due to
foul trouble (unusual for him) but stepped up big in crunch time.
In time Solomon could be the best center to come out of this draft but will need the right teachers.
4. Do you think Alabi will drop to pick #21, or do you think he'll go before that?
Before the start of the NCAA season, Solomon was predicted to be a lottery pick and some
draft boards thought he might even turn into a top ten pick. The hope was that Solomon would
turn into a consistent double-double kind of player. He finished the year averaging 11 points,
6 rebounds and two blocks per game in 25 minutes of play and shot 79% from the free throw line.
He also averaged two turnovers per game. Everyone hoped that his offensive game was going to
blossom this year, but it didn't evolve quite the way everyone hoped for. He could easily be
available at 21.
The combine numbers will certainly affect the draft postions of many in the draft. Could be as
high as 10 by then or as low as 30.
I would not be all that concerned with the lack of offensive dominance. The fact is FSU lacked the
ability to make a simple entry pass and he got far fewer touches than he should have. He shows regular
progress due to his work ethic and intelligence. Add to that the lack of respect for any real outside
game from FSU guards and you wind up with a clogged middle where Solomon regularly faced triple and
Solomon shows a nice baby hook when he remembers it and a nice mid-range touch to the elbow. He does
like to flush.
Solomon is a project, though. He does need more core and a wider-stronger base. His handle is just not
at present and he can be awkward and ungainly.
Professional players can dedicate time to the game and he'll certainly need coaching to attain his
full potential. He should show a large jump in skills in a short period. Probably at least 2 years
from being a full time starter though.