Scouting Al Horford

I ventured down to Toledo this past weekend to catch Al Horford and the Michigan Mustangs in action in the Glass City All Star Classic. The level of competition wasn't as high as that at the Spiece Run N Slam tourney a few weeks ago, but the event served as an excellent opportunity to evaluate Horford's game.

For those who missed last week's reports on Horford, from Grand Ledge, Mich., click below:

Chat with Al Horford's coach
Al Horford Speaks

Michigan Mustang coach Norm Oden described the game of his young post man (who averaged 14 points and 12 rebounds for the weekend) much like Grand Ledge coach Tony Sweet did earlier in the week. "Al is a true post player. He has all of the moves in the paint, he changes shots and he rebounds. He's truly a post presence. He's a warrior in there!" Many of the aforementioned skills were on display in the games I watched. He looked to be 6'7" 215-220 lbs. and he had good strength. It's obvious that he's put in a lot of work on the offensive end because he has highly refined skills. Al has an excellent drop step that really loses defenders that lean on him too heavily. On a number of occasions he dropped to the baseline and went up for the easy deuce.

Al with the drop step

I also noticed that he has a nice jump hook. That shot is virtually unblockable because of his long arms. He isn't afraid to take it from 13'-14' either. A couple of times double (and sometimes triple) teams rotated over and he either went up with the hook or found the open man cutting to the basket.

Al with the jump hook over three guys

Al was also very effective at establishing position on the block. He was really able to wall off his man and give the guards good angles for entry passes. He displayed pretty good hands when receiving the ball and didn't fumble it too much. While he seemingly could establish his position at will, he would often back out of the post and watch the guards do their thing. That is often the case with big men in AAU ball (especially when you have an outstanding guard like Drew Neitzel on your team). That said, it seemed to put him at a huge disadvantage on the offensive boards, as he was boxed out with ease.

Al establishes position

On defense Al is the quintessential position defender. He isn't going to "out-athlete" most guys, but he does a very good job of staying in front of his man on the low blocks and uses those long arms to disrupt or block shots. He had a little trouble when he was forced to go outside and defend his opponent off of the dribble, but was defensively solid otherwise. One of the little things he did that really impressed me was he was very vocal on defense. He called out the screens to the guards on every occasion. He also did a great job of letting his teammates know when he was picking a player up on a switch.

The player that Al reminded me of most was Graham Brown. Both are true post guys that get all of the dirty work done. Graham is an inch or so taller and 30 pounds heavier, but they have similar athleticism and defensive tenacity. Graham is a better rebounder because he's stronger, but Al will get there in time. In terms of offensive ability…Al would get the nod in touch and post moves. He's definitely one of the more fundamentally sound post players you'll see. Coach Oden mentioned that, "The real improvement in Al's game will come in his jumper outside of 16'."

Al with another jump hook

Along with the improvement in his jump shot, he'll also have to continue to improve his strength and quickness. He's going to need those traits when he goes up against bigger, more athletic guys. The recruiting attention on this kid has intensified already. If he grows to 6'10" and improves his jumper like his coaches are suggesting, his stock will shoot through the roof!

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