New Basketball Player Impressing

When Alabama Men's Basketball Coach Anthony Grant signed one of the nation's top prospects, one can't help but wonder if he realized what a headache Devota Pollard might prove to be. Bama has been practicing for less than a week, but the evidence is beginning to come in.

Alabama freshman Devonta Pollard, 6-8, 200, the reigning Mississippi Gatorade State Player of the Year and MVP of the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game, was a five-star prospect by FoxSPORTSNext, ranked the fifth best small forward in the nation. In his senior season, Pollard led Kemper County High School to the Mississippi 3A state title by averaging 23.8 points, 15.7 rebounds, and 5.1 blocked shots per game. He earned Mr. Basketball in Mississippi. Pollard received an invitation to the prestigious McDonald's High School All-American Game, but did not participate due to injury. He will be the 10th McDonald's All-America to suit up for the Crimson Tide.

Andrew Steele, Alabama's lone senior, said of Bama's lone signee, "He's one of the most exciting athletes I've been able to play with in terms of his size and his length, his quickness, his jumping ability. He's going to be a nightmare for people in the press for how we play. His skill level surprised me. He's real good at handling the ball and shooting and a great decision-maker. He's one of those people you could put him anywhere on the court and he'd be successful."

So, okay. A headache for Bama opponents.

Steele and other Alabama players have been working with Pollard since mid-summer. Crimson Tide Coach Anthony Grant said, "I think some of the veteran guys have been able to speed the process up for him in terms of what the expectations are and what we need to do.

"He's doing well. Obviously as a freshmen there's a lot to learn in what the expectations are, the system, and what-not, but like I said I think the veteran guys have done a good job of helping that learning curve for him. He has a very high basketball IQ as well, so he's been able to pick things up."

One question posed to Grant was whether Pollard is an inside player or a wing player or a high post player.

"Devonta is a basketball player," Grant said.

Without JaMychal Green, with soph Nick Jacobs the most experienced inside player, and the jury still out on some other big men, Grant said, "We'll play a variety of different lineups, key in a lot of players and ask them to do a lot of different things."

Sophomore guard Levi Randolph said, "Pollard is fitting in very well. He's doing great. He has a lot of energy and does well on both ends of the floor, so he's going to bring a lot to the team.

"Devonta's great. He's a great guy, he's a good player. He's a basketball player.

I feel like he's a guy who can play all over the court, who can play multiple positions.

And how will he impress?

"His energy," said Randolph. "His skill. He can fly, he can jump, he can shoot, he can dribble. He's going to be a great asset to the team."

Steele said, "I think it's tough for a freshman to come in, but I think he's p;icked up everything in stride. I think he's going to be a real big part of our success this year.

"He'll be a great rebounder, great defender, great finisher, but I think his skill level is a lot better than what I thought it was. He can really shoot and handle the ball and he's a good decision maker. I think he's going to be really, really versatile.

"He's a playmaker.

"I'm really excited to see him get a chance to play."

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