Updated: Jul 29
This will be 1 part of a 4 part series in which we break down Alabama's 2020-21 roster by position groups: guards, wings, forwards, and bigs.
PG Jahvon Quinerly:
The 6'1", 175 pound transfer guard from Hackensack, NJ., will be going into his redshirt-sophomore year this season with a chip on his shoulder. After having his original waiver request and appeal denied, the former 5 star recruit spent the last year practicing with the team and learning Coach Oats playbook. Since he was forced to sit a year, Quinerly has not played in an organized game since March 3rd, 2019.
Quinerly is a true point guard who loves to go downhill with the ball in his hands, something that he didn't get to do a lot in Jay Wright's slower paced offense at Villanova. Quinerly will have much more opportunities in Nate Oats run and gun style of play which led to Alabama being 3rd in the nation in PPG (82) only trailing Gonzaga and Duke. For someone who is known for his scoring and finishing ability, Quinerly is very underrated as a passer. He can see the floor exceptionally well on the fast break and is tremendous at creating open looks for others when he drives to the rim. When comparing Lewis, Sexton, and Quinerly, it makes sense to project Quinerly as the best pure passer of the 3. Quinerly is very efficient with the ball in his hands, averaging 18.5 PPG, 5.8 APG, and only with 1.8 TPG in his senior year at Hudson Catholic High School.
Quinerly is an exciting player to think about in Nate Oats' style of play because it gives him the most opportunities to make decisions at a fast pace, something Quinerly is very comfortable with doing. Quinerly should excel the most at scoring next season though. Known for his pure scoring ability and ridiculous finishes around the rim, Quinerly now, more than ever, will have plenty of space to operate with in the open floor given the fast paced offense and knock down 3 point shooters surrounding him. Flashes of this was shown while he was at Villanova. When Quinerly was on the floor with Collin Gillespie, Phil Booth, and Eric Paschall, the 3 point threat of those three forced the defense to extend out, giving Quinerly plenty of room to operate and opening up driving lanes. Now Quinerly will have even more shooters to work with on the perimeter, which will allow him to either make the right pass or go to his best strength: driving and finishing at the rim. Quinerly was tagged with the nickname "jelly" back in high school because of his flashy finishes around the rim. That finishing ability is something Alabama needs desperately. The tide ranked 93rd last season in 2 point percentage. Considering that most of those were dunks and lay ups with Nate Oats' no mid-rangers philosophy, Quinerly should help boost Alabama's 2 point percentage significantly next season.
Quinerly seems like the perfect fit for the point guard role in Nate Oats' offense and he will need to be ready as he has big shoes to fill coming to Tuscaloosa right after former lottery pick PG Collin Sexton and future 1st round pick PG Kira Lewis Jr. However, being in the spotlight is nothing new for Jahvon Quinerly. He has the keys to the offense and he is prepared to shine now more than ever before.
G Jaden Shackelford:
Last offseason Caoch Oats said that Jaden Shackelford was the most college-ready Freshman he has ever had, and he couldn't have been more right. The 6-3", 185 pound shooting guard from Hesperia, California was a stud his freshman year averaging 15 PPG (11th in the SEC), 4.1 RPG, and 1.4 APG while shooting at a 35.7 3FG% (3rd in the SEC). Shackelford also was named SEC freshman of the week, CBS sports national freshman of the week, and was named to the SEC All-Freshman team at the end of the season.
Shackelford loves the idea of being the underdog. He came to Tuscaloosa as a 3 star recruit (29th SG in the nation) by 247 sports and he proved all the recruiting services wrong. Not only was he one of the best catch and shooters from behind the arc in College Basketball last season, but as he became more comfortable with the speed of the college game, he became better at putting the ball on the floor and creating open looks for himself. This became evident in conference play. Shackelford's best 4 game stretch of the season (@ Auburn, Vs LSU, Vs Texas A&M, @ Ole Miss) came in mid February SEC play where he averaged 24 PPG. Shackelford is as pure of a scorer as it gets. He has the ability to shoot the 3, pull up from mid range, or finish at the rim. This shows in the stat sheet with his true shooting percentage of 57.2%.
In year 2 of Nate Oats' system, expect Shackelford to become more of a scoring threat from the entire floor. At times, he relied on the 3 point shot too much (65% 3PT FG tendency). Expect that number to drop next season as he becomes a more complete player and scorer. Shackelford displayed a 22.9% usage rate last season which I expect to rise in his sophomore season as he becomes a bigger feature in the offense. There are thing he needs to become better at. He averaged 1.5 TPG which is high considering he isn't the main ball handler in the offense. He can also improve his on ball defense which should be better this season with more experience in addition to Nate Oats and staff putting more of their focus on the defensive side of the ball in the offseason. Moreover, Shackelford also twists his body to the right occasionally when he catches and shoots. This can allow defenders to get a better close out because it takes longer to get the shot up. If the twist comes before the catch it isn't a problem because his release is fast and he is comfortable shooting in that motion.
Shackelford is primed for a big sophomore season. He spent his quarantine working out with his father in California improving on his weaknesses. It's hard to say that an All-SEC Freshman can become a lot better but we only saw a glimpse of what Jaden Shackelford can be last season. Shackelford has a glass ceiling as a scorer and in his Sophomore season expect to see a stronger, better all around player in Jaden Shackelford.
G Keon Ellis:
The Crimson Tide will be bringing in the #3 player in JUCO in 6’6”, 165 pound combo guard Keon Ellis. Ellis, originally from Eustis, Florida, attended Florida SouthWestern College University in Fort Myers, Florida where he spent the first 2 years of his college career. Ellis will bring even more firepower to an offense that was ranked #3 in the nation last year.
During Ellis’ freshman season at FSW, he averaged 8.3 PPG with 3 RPG and 2.2 APG on 44.2 FG% and 29.1 3PT%. Ellis improved his game in almost every asset between his freshman and sophomore season. During his sophomore season, he put up huge numbers with 18.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.2 APG on 50/40/80 shooting splits. Not only did his offensive game skyrocket, he started playing better on ball defense— as he averaged over 2 steals and 1 block a game. His sophomore season was enough for 247 sports to rank him as a 4 star and the #3 player in JUCO.
Ellis was able to advance his offensive game in the offseason to where he became a pure scorer and threat to score from anywhere on the floor. He became much more comfortable creating looks for himself by putting the ball on the floor and hitting harder contested shots. Ellis was already comfortable with his ability to catch and shoot, but now posses the ability to light up the scoreboard on any given day, something that will make the #3 scoring team in the nation last year even more dangerous on offense next season. Ellis showed this offensive outpouring against St. Petersburg last season, where he scored 41 points (14-22 shooting, 7-7 FT) along with turning up the energy defensively with 3 steals and a block. Ellis also improved his defensive game in his sophomore year, setting game highs with 4 steals (5x) and 5 blocks (vs. ASA Miami). However, Ellis could tighten up his handles a bit and work on speed with the ball in his hands. This would help with his aggressive play style and with Nate Oats’ run and gun system.
Ellis projects to be a 2 guard that can handle the point guard role every now and then in Nate Oats' offense. He very well could have a season similar to that of Jaden Shackelford’s freshman year in terms of play style and role in the offense. However, Ellis might be the biggest question mark of the 2020 Alabama recruiting class. His recruitment and commitment both flew under the radar because he is coming from JUCO. However, Nate Oats did some of his best work with JUCO transfers at his time in Buffalo and Ellis projects to be the best JUCO transfer Oats has landed yet. There’s really no way to tell yet how big of a role Ellis will have in his first year in Tuscaloosa because the team has yet to have a full practice and and we’re months away from the start of the season. However, Ellis has made it known that he is willing to work, and those are the type of players Nate Oats is beginning to bring to Tuscaloosa.
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