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 which could leave a huge mark on Alabama basketball’s future for Nate Oats. In this third article of four, we look at the next group of wings that Nate Oats and company have been linked to over the last couple of weeks and months.
Profile: James White is a four-star 6’5” shooting guard from Conyers, Georgia. He is ranked 105th overall nationally by rivals.com.
Breakdown: I don’t normally go off the rankings of one site and prefer the industry generated 247sports Composite Ranking. When it comes to James White, though, it isn’t possible to use this since he isn’t yet ranked by 247sports or ESPN. Rivals is the only website that has ranked White and they’re just ahead of the curve. 247sports analyst Bryan Snow wrote on White this week and said in the next rankings update White should be a 4-star prospect on 247. White emerged on the scene out of nowhere this last month without even having to play on a summer circuit. Where did this come from? The talent is undeniable, it’s just that he’s finally now getting the national attention he deserves. He has now picked up offers from Alabama, Florida State, Florida, Georgia, Arizona State, and others. White is a solid wing who has long arms and is capable of doing three important things that Nate Oats looks for in recruits: shoot the lights out of the gym, be a willing and capable passer, and be a capable ball handler. White is a better shooter than he is anything else, but he is someone who can do a little bit of everything on the offensive end. He is great from deep in catch and shoot scenarios, but shoots it very well off the dribble as well. His shooting stroke is very consistent and fluid. He could have an immediate impact on the offensive end at whatever school he decides to attend because of his accuracy from deep. He isn’t a great athlete or defender yet, but he isn’t inferior by any means. If he can get a little quicker laterally he could be a solid defender with development. Bryan Snow compares him to Devin Vassell, a likely lottery pick this season, as a prospect. The mystery that is James White is starting to become well-known and there is a lot to like.
What White would bring to Alabama: White would provide Alabama with an elite shooter who has plenty of room to develop into a great college basketball player. White isn’t a player who will be a one-and-done product, but he is a player who has long-term potential to develop into a NBA player with proper development based on what his skillset is and the room he has to grow in it. He would provide Nate Oats and staff a player that they can mold into the perfect wing for this system: an elite shooter who can be a secondary playmaker with long arms and the ability to be versatile on defense once he continues to grow into himself as a defender. If there was an AAU circuit this summer there’s a chance we could see White blow up and raise his stock nationally. Without it, however, we will wait to see what schools make White a priority and whether Alabama will or not.
Profile: Alex Fudge is a four-star 6’7” forward from Jacksonville, Florida. He is ranked 70th overall nationally by 247sports Composite Rankings.
Breakdown: If you follow me on twitter or talk basketball with me often, you know I am very high on Alex Fudge. This is one of my favorite players that Alabama is pursuing that I’ve had the chance to breakdown on film. Fudge has a very long frame and will be a very versatile defender who can switch and guard guys on the perimeter while also proving help-side rim protection with his length and jumping ability. On the offensive end, Fudge can be used in a variety of ways. His jump shot has continued to improve, and he can knock down shots from anywhere on the court in catch-and-shoot scenarios. He is a great leaper who can put someone on a poster any time he’s given the opportunity. He can get to the rim whenever he pleases and finishes well. He has a solid handle and vision for someone of his size and takes long steps to get by defenders. He runs very well in transition where he throws down highlight dunks every chance he gets. He is capable of grabbing the rebound himself and pushing the ball down the floor as the ball handler and making proper reads. Speaking of rebounding, he is great and grabbing boards on both ends. He reads the ball coming off the rim very well and uses his length and athleticism to meet the ball and put it back up on offense or push in transition from the defensive end. There’s a whole lot to love on Alex Fudge and not much to dislike.
What Fudge would bring to Alabama: Fudge would provide Alabama with endless potential and can take up some of the minutes Herb Jones will leave behind after he graduates next year. Fudge has limitless potential as a defender who can use his length to jump passing lanes and give offensive players problems when he is on ball. He can also provide Alabama with a shot blocker from the forward spot. He also provides the Tide with someone who thrives in fast pace offense where he can get out and run to get easy dunk opportunities. He said in an interview that the staff has told him if he was to play at Alabama he would have freedom to take his shots whenever he gets looks. He would have that freedom because of his ability to be a threat from deep and possessing the ability to attack the rim and finish whenever he does. He is a versatile scorer who can create mismatches due to his length and shooting ability. He is capable of posting up smaller defenders and using his length to get easy post hook opportunities, but he can also use his long, quick steps to get to the rim if bigger defenders step up on him. One thing we saw this past season was Nate Oats running lob sets in the half court. Alex Fudge would provide a player who can be the receiver of lobs and finish them any chance he’s thrown one. He can jump out of the gym and do all the things Nate Oats looks for in his wings. Fudge holds offers and interest from LSU, Texas, Texas A&M, Georgia Tech, Florida, and others.
Profile: Malaki Branham is a four-star 6’5” shooting guard from Akron, Ohio. He is ranked 25th overall nationally by 247sports Composite Rankings.
Breakdown: The fact Malaki Branham isn’t a five-star puzzles me. There’s not much this kid can’t do and in my opinion is easily a top 20 player in the class. He is a big guard who can handle the ball, is unselfish and a good facilitator, and can knock down shots from anywhere on the floor. He is strong enough to bully any guard that guards him and is smaller than him. He’s quick enough to blow by bigger defenders and smart enough to get to the rim at will where he displays great touch. He is a good shooter from mid-range and from deep as well. He can really shoot it when left open and will keep the defense honest. If he gets hot from deep then it’s going to be a long night for opposing teams. He thrives as a slasher who uses his craftiness to get to the rim to score himself or create opportunities for shooters around him. He is a good ball handler who can pass on the move which is perfect as a secondary playmaker at the high-major level. He is someone who grinds hard on defense and on rebounding as well. He is a player who does not give up on any play and does all the little things. He is a gritty defender who wants the challenge of guarding the better offensive players to get stops for his team. He hustles to get rebounds and uses his strength to box out other players to keep them from getting the rebound. Branham is the type of player that every team needs and would do anything for.
What Branham would bring to Alabama: Branham would provide Alabama with a player who does it all. He locks down opposing wings, scores at will, and sets up his teammates for open, easy looks. He is a gym rat who will be a leader from day one for his work ethic and willingness to learn and to do whatever it takes to win. He has a great motor and will be a great player because of how hard he works. He would bring the Tide a player who can score whenever he pleases but is unselfish enough to set up his teammates whenever he is given the opportunity. One thing Alabama fans want out of the recruits the Tide has signed in 2020 and will sign in 2021 is the ability to improve the defense and rebounding. Branham is a guard who will do these things. He will rebound extremely well for his position (think how well John Petty and Kira Lewis rebounded the ball in the 2019-2020 season), and will take on the challenge to guard the better scorers in high major basketball. Alabama fans want leadership and accountability out of their players and Branham could provide great leadership with a drive to win from day one. Branham is the type of player who would help continue to change the culture for the Alabama basketball locker room and the future of the program. Ohio State is seen as the leader in his recruitment and holds the lone crystal ball prediction for Branham. Xavier, Louisville, and Alabama are also heavily involved. Branham could cut his list to around 7 soon (per his twitter) and is something for Alabama fans to watch for. I know this is a player the staff is extremely high on and it is easy to see why.
Give 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 them below and I can give a breakdown in response. Next up: 2021 Prospects Big Men Edition featuring Moussa Diabate, Charles Bediako, Damion Collins, Alex Tchikou, and John Butler.
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