Alabama Basketball Has Key Prospect

Basketball coaches covet shot makers. Scorers distinguish themselves from pure shooters by having the ability to penetrate through a maze of defenders and finish at the rim. Algie Key is a junior college prospect known for ferociously attacking defenses with authority. The effort frequently produces a conversion of the field goal attempt along with a trip to the charity stripe.

Alabama is seeking to land another scorer during the spring signing period, April 17th – May 15th.

After a 2011 spring visit to the heartland of America, Algie Key chose to further his basketball career at Barton Community College located in Great Bend, Kansas. He experienced success as a freshman earning third team National Junior College All-America honors despite playing the last month with a torn shoulder tendon. Surgery in the spring prevented Key from exposure at the summer showcase events. He received medical clearance in October prior to the start of practice for the 2012-13 season.

"He's a great kid and comes from a good family," said Head Coach Craig Fletchall. "He is a combo guard that can do a lot of things. He is the fastest player I've coached from point A to B with the ball and can handle it in a pinch. He can guard and is incredibly athletic."

Alabama Coach Anthony Grant and his staff are involved with the 6-4, 185-pound native of Decatur, Georgia.

Named after two deceased family members, grandfather and uncle, he is known as "Al."

The versatile Key is an exceptional slasher to the basket and mid-range pull up jump shooter. He fancies himself as a combo guard.

"I score when I have to and I like to involve my teammates," Key said. "I try to be aggressive offensively and get to the free throw line as much as I can."

This week Grant discussed Alabama's need to get to the free throw line more frequently. That makes Key particularly attractive as a prospect.

Excellent body control has enabled him to obliterate a 42-year old school record for career free throw attempts. Currently he has recorded 522. He attempted 280 as a freshman and 242 thus far as a sophomore. An astounding 26 times out of 64 games he has attempted a minimum of ten free throws.

"He does such a good job getting into the lane and to the line," said Fletchall. "He scores in a variety of ways." Rarely does Key launch from behind the three-point line. The 64 attempts in two years were mostly shot-clock induced. Rehabilitating the shoulder during the summer kept him from practicing perimeter shots. He recognizes the need to develop consistency from long range.

Key has improved defensively. "He is very good and gotten a lot better off the ball," said Fletchall. "He is fast and gets his hands on a lot of passes." Only six out-of-state individuals are allowed on the roster forcing a talent like Key to be called upon to defend point guards, wings and occasionally post players. "I feel like I can guard anybody between the one and three," he said. "I feel like I can lock up when I want to. Some people like to say I'm not a lock down defender but I like to say that I am and prove them wrong."

He is an ironman on the court averaging over 34 minutes per contest. "I rarely take him out of the game. He doesn't get tired," said Fletchall.

Junior college prospects are viewed with suspicion by some Division I coaches. They have concerns with their attitude, style of play, or skill deficiencies. Not so with Key. Two productive years and the ability to compete undeterred by pain shows he is game ready for the next level.

"It would be a great time for him to step into a program with returning guards that he could compliment," said Fletchall. "He is a low maintenance super kid that is not going to disrupt anything. He is all about competing and winning."

Alabama certainly fits the "program with returning guards" part of the criteria Key will consider.

Key has displayed an even keeled on-court demeanor refraining from the stereotypical pump fisting celebrations. The intense business-like approach has proven successful.

Fletchall said, "He has that assassin style bravado on the floor when the ball is in his hands yet never verbalizes that attitude. He is competitive in every drill we do and practices hard having not a missed a day." Key's unselfish nature has resulted in an unusual request. Fletchall had to encourage the returning All-America accustomed to scoring in traffic and eluding double teams to shoot the ball. Key exhibits playmaking skills from the wing but can slide over to the point -- his preferred position. A high basketball IQ is reflected in his decision making.

Alabama, Georgia, Kansas State, TCU, Tulsa, Washington State and West Virginia have shown interest. Missouri Valley Conference schools Creighton and Missouri State have offered. Key has yet to take any of the five visits. "I know he is interested in Alabama," Fletchall said. "Coach Grant has been here and so has Coach (John) Brannen a couple of times."

Key has not formulated a final list but has spoken with Anthony Grant frequently. "Hopefully I'll get an offer from Alabama," Key said. "They like my game and think I would fit in with their style of play. He (Grant) is recruiting me to score and make plays for others."

Academics, athletic tradition and the coaching staff are important factors influencing the decision. No timetable has been set to announce a decision. Proximity to home would be nice but location is lower on the priority scale. He has three brothers and four sisters. His oldest brother played basketball at Jacksonville State. "My family actually is from Tuskegee," Key said. He also said he "played with and against Nick Jacobs (current Tide sophomore). We grew up together" in Decatur, Ga.

As a senior captain and top scorer at Columbia High School, Key guided the Eagles to the Georgia Class 3A title in 2011. The previous three years he had attended Lakeside High School in Atlanta.

"Algie could have easily scored in the 20s but he was such a great team player that he actually shared the ball and sacrificed for the sake of the team," said Columbia High School Coach Dr. Phillip McCrary. "He did everything he possibly could for the team to win. On the court, you will always get Algie's best effort. He is a winner."

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