Senior Update on Alfred Aboya

He's been through some issues this season, but the 6-7, 240-pounder commmitted to UCLA, <b>Alfred Aboya</b>, still gets very good reviews from a coach that provides us an honest evaluation...

We checked in with Scott Willard, the coach of the Tilton School in New Hampshire, and Alfred Aboya, the 6-7 post from Cameroon, who is committed to UCLA.

Willard, who is a type of guy who will give it to you straight, said that Aboya has had an inconsistent season.

"For a number of reasons," Willard said. "It's been different for him than last year. For one, he's had some off-the-court issues with his brother back in Cameroon. He was then gone for about three weeks and it's taken him a while to get back his stamina and basketball mindset. And we're playing him differently this year."

Aboya's brother suffers from tuberculosis, a disease that has affected many members in Aboya's family. The situation became fairly serious in November, right around the time that Aboya was deciding on which school he would attend next fall. Willard said that it did affect Aboya's mental focus, understandably, at the beginning of this season.

Aboya then returned to Cameroon about a month ago for the first time since he came to the Unite States, which was during his junior year. The trip was primarily to see his brother, who is now better, and to see his family for the first time in about a year and a half.

In Cameroon for three weeks, Aboya spent time with his family and his brother, and didn't play any basketball.

"It's entirely understandable, Alfred going back to Cameroon," Willard said. "It unfortunately affected his game when he came back. He missed four games and he got rusty. He also lost a little weight, too. He's still getting his legs and his wind back from his trip."

Having missed so much time and other things have kept Aboya from getting in "an offensive rhythm yet this year," according to Willard.

"Well, in our league, we have a lot smaller quicker teams this year," Willard said. "And we got a 7-footer in the post, so Alfred has had to guard much smaller guys than him. On offense, he went from being used as more of a back-to-the-basket player to a face-up four. All of that has affected his game a bit this year."

Willard said at the end of last season, Aboya was really getting in a groove. "He was putting up 30-plus points a game and really looking like he was coming into his own."

Aboya is 100% recovered from the knee injury and surgery he experienced last spring, according to Willard, and that hasn't hampered him.

Willard said he knows that Aboya is a very good prospect, it's just a matter of circumstances and having missed three weeks that have caused some inconsistency with him this season. "Heck, he's still getting about 13 rebounds a game and five blocked shots. In our game tonight (Thursday), he had 19 points."

And Willard said it was a story of two halves. Aboya scored two points in the first half and 17 in the second. "He's still just getting back into it from being away. In the first half he wasn't using his athleticism. In the second half you could see he finally just said, ‘Forget this, I'm just going to dunk it,' which he did."

Willard, who said that Aboya is still about 240 pounds, has many great attributes that should serve him well at UCLA. "First, Alfred is fantastic on defense. This year he's struggled some because he's had to guard players much smaller than he is. But when he goes against bigger guys, against bangers, he does so much better. He shuts down guys completely. He's just so strong, and with his athleticism, he'll take a kid right out of his game. If we play a team a couple of times, Alfred will do it to him every time. He loves physical contact. The more physical the better."

Offensively, Willard says that Aboya's skills have continued to develop. "In the post, with his back to the basket last year, he was more effective. He's got a few different moves, a lefty hook shot in the lane and a jump hook with his right hand. We've had to play him facing the basket this year, and he's done okay. He has a pretty nice outside jumper and is good at taking you off the dribble from the top of the key."

One of Aboya's best offensive attributes is playing in transition. Willard said, "He must get half his points in transition. He's excellent at getting out on a break, especially for a guy who is 240 pounds."

Willard said that he can see Aboya fitting in well at a program like UCLA, where tough defense is emphasized and with the team in need of an inside-outside four man. "Alfred is perfect for that. He'll defend any post really well, and he'll be able to take a bigger guy outside or post up smaller guys. It's a good fit for him."

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