We’re getting to one of the best times of the offseason: summer recruiting. In this new way of recruiting during the pandemic, we have been able to see who Alabama has hosted on virtual visits, offered, and begun to make a priority. During this, I have kept a list of players who it seems as if Alabama may pursue hard in the 2021 class— a class that could leave a huge mark on Alabama basketball’s future for Nate Oats. In this second article of three, we look at some wings that Nate Oats and company have been linked to over the last couple of weeks and months.
Hunter Sallis is a 6’3” five-star combo guard from Omaha, Nebraska. He is ranked 20th nationally by 247sports Composite Rankings.
Breakdown: Truth be told, Sallis should be a part of the guard breakdown posted last week. Somehow, I left his name off. I found it to be important to include him in the breakdown of all of Alabama targets early in the cycle. Watching his film it’s easy to see how he is ranked as a five-star. He’s a smooth operator with the ball in his hands and finds ways to score with ease. He is a good athlete with a great handle. With these skills, he has a knack for getting to the rim and pushing the pace when given the opportunity. He has no problem attacking the rim and finishing the possession with a dunk or contact layup. What makes him even more deadly as an offensive player is a smooth jump shot (seems to be a theme with players Alabama is after— shocking!) that he can pull from anywhere with. He is a good catch and shoot shooter, but can really throw defenses off with his ability to stop on a dime and shoot it off the dribble from mid-range and three. His ability to score from all 3 levels, attack the rim aggressively, and his ability to facilitate when the defense collapses makes him an elite offensive talent. He isn’t bad on the defensive end either. He is a disruptor on defense. He does a great job of timing passes and jumping the gap to create transition opportunities. He isn’t a lock down defender on the ball, but he isn’t a defensive liability either. He can hold his own against opposing guards. He is a high IQ player on both ends and is deserving of his five-star ranking.
What Sallis would bring to Alabama:
Sallis would provide Alabama with an athletic, score first guard who is capable of playing on and off the ball. Nate Oats’ system thrives when high IQ guards are at the helm which is exactly what Sallis could bring to the table. He would bring Alabama a guard who plays aggressive on both ends and competes at all times. Sallis has one speed: fast. He wants to run and create easy scoring opportunities which fits the Alabama offense well. He is a great pick and roll playmaker as he can attack the rim off of it with ease, pull up from three-point range or midrange, or make the right pass to the roller/popper. Sallis is a player who seems to make the right play more often that not. He’d provide instant scoring from any spot on the floor, smart playmaking, and disruptive defense. He’s a guard that would be able to rebound similarly to Kira Lewis in the fact that he rebounds well for the position and hustles hard to track shots off the rim and push the tempo. He is an ideal guard for this system. Sallis holds offers from Kansas, North Carolina, Gonzaga, Louisville, UCLA, and many others. He has not laid out a timetable for a cut list. I am not sure what Alabama’s chances are in his recruitment, but he is a name to follow.
Profile: Jordan Nesbitt is a 6’6” three-star wing from Saint Louis, Missouri. He is ranked 136th nationally by 247sports Composite Rankings.
Breakdown: I’m a little surprised the national rankings are as low as they are for Jordan Nesbitt. I believe he could’ve risen his stock a good bit with summer circuits this year, and still has plenty of time to do so with his senior year. Nesbitt is a not a great defender, but can score at will. He has a nice inside and out game and has nice balance to be able to shoot off the catch or off the bounce. This past season his high school, St. Louis Christian Academy, faced off against Jalen Green, Nimari Burnett, and Prolific Prep. In that game Nesbitt finished with 37 points and 12 boards in the loss. Nesbitt showed the ability to knock down shots from deep, attack the rim, and played with a lot of toughness. Nesbitt played against another five-star in the class of 2020 this past season in Caleb Love. In this showdown Nesbitt finished with 29 points and a win. He has a lot of room to grow defensively and as a playmaker, but he has shown that he can score against some of the top competition in the country.
What Nesbitt would bring to Alabama: Nesbitt would provide Alabama with a bench wing who can score from three levels as he pleases. He could benefit a lot from putting on a little bit of weight and really focusing on improving defensively to become a complete player. His scoring ability will land him at a high major school where he should be a contributor. Illinois and Nebraska seem to be in on Nesbitt hard, and Alabama is new to the race. Nesbitt is a name to watch and see how the staff proceeds.
Profile: Johnathan Lawson is a four-star 6’7” small forward from Memphis, Tennessee. He is ranked 87th nationally by 247sports Composite Rankings.
Breakdown: Lawson is a very intriguing prospect who has met virtually with Nate Oats and the Alabama staff a time or two. He won the Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year this past season and has seen his recruitment jump since then. He has a brother who plays at Oregon and holds an offer from there, his two older brothers used to play at Memphis before transferring out a couple of years back, and Memphis currently has his cousin DJ Jeffries on the roster. Lawson is listed as a small forward but is really just a big guard. He is more of a point forward who can do it all. He has a solid handle and vision, a nice jump stroke, and defensive versatility to guard multiple positions. He can shoot it from deep and uses his size and length to drive to the basket or post up smaller defenders. His length makes him a nightmare on defense as he continues to add weight and buy in on that side of the ball. He has the ability to guard 1-4 if he can continue to add weight which helps with situations where you switch on pick and rolls. Lawson can be an instant contributor to wherever he goes to school with his versatility, size, and potential.
What Lawson would bring to Alabama: Lawson would bring to Alabama what Nate Oats loves: a big guard who can do a little bit of everything. Lawson brings Alabama a 6’7” wing who can handle the ball, pass to open shooters, drive to the rim at will, knock down jumpers himself, and pull in rebounds. Lawson has seen his recruitment blow up for a reason and should see his ranking jump up over the next year. If he can add some more weight the defensive versatility will only become more of a nightmare for opponents. With his size and skillset he has tons of potential. He would be a contributor as a freshman for Coach Oats and Alabama. Memphis, LSU, USC, and Vanderbilt are also involved.
Profile: Michael James is a four-star 6’6” small forward from Orlando, Florida. He is ranked 81st nationally by 247sports Composite Rankings.
Breakdown: James is someone who can do a little bit of everything. He’s a big forward who is very strong and plays extremely hard. When I watch his film he reminds me a little bit of Juwan Gary as a recruit. He plays very hard on defense and has the potential to be a defensive stopper on the college level. He is versatile and can guard on the perimeter as well as use his strength to guard players around the rim. He is quick laterally and is smart to play defense with his legs rather than his hands. He can jump passing lanes and make shots difficult for opposing teams with his length and defensive IQ. He rebounds extremely well to go with his defense. Being able to guard the ball is extremely important at the college level, but so is closing the possession with a rebound. That’s part of what makes Herb Jones such an elite defender: he challenges the offense, locks his man down, and then finishes possessions with a rebound. James does that as well. He can track it off the rim and out muscle players to grab the board. It’s not often you find recruits where you can rave on their defense, strength, and hustle, so when given the chance to do so it’s hard to pass that up. Offensively James can be a contributor on the college level as well. His outside shot has improved and will continue to do so. He is more than capable of knocking down catch and shoot threes. He is a great finisher and is a great athlete who can play above the rim. He can catch lobs and finish, post up smaller defenders and use his strength to finish at the rim, or attack off the dribble himself. He runs the floor and helps push the pace for easy buckets in transition. James is a forward who should be able to contribute early on in his career at a high major.
What James would bring to Alabama: James is a wing that would bring toughness and grit to the Tide. He isn’t a player who has to score 10 or more points to be effective because he’ll handle everything else to leave his mark on the game. He is someone who can come in and play defense at a high level in the SEC and rebound at a high level. He would be able to contribute and help fill the hole Herb Jones will leave defensively after this season. He can jump passing lanes, guard on the ball, and switch onto a variety of positions which makes him someone that will impact games wherever he ends up. With that said, he’s no dud on the offensive side of the ball. He can shoot the ball well from three in catch and shoot situations, is strong enough to post up weaker defenders, and can attack the rim and finish very well. He also runs the floor and pushes the pace. As stated already, he is a good rebounder who can push the tempo off the rebound. He is someone who can get the rebound, kick ahead to a guard, and still run the floor and finish the quick possession with a layup. He does not give up on a play on either side of the ball and works extremely hard to continue to improve. He holds offers from Louisville, Arkansas, North Carolina State, TCU, among others. He has not set a timetable for cutting his list or making a decision. He is a name to track for Alabama fans to see where they have positioned themselves when he gets to that point in his recruitment.
Give us your thoughts in the comments on 2021 wings you’d like to see wear crimson and white on the collegiate level. If there are any names I may not have included that you’d like to hear more about, comment down below or let us know on Twitter!
Next up: 2021 Prospects Wings Edition Part 2 featuring Alex Fudge, Chance Moore, and Malaki Branham.
For more Alabama hoops coverage, be sure to follow Crimson Crossover on all social media platforms: