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February 7, 2006Raw is a good way of describing 7-foot-1, 230-pound Solomon Alabi of Montverde (Fla.) Academy. The Nigerian native certainly has the size that attracts the attention of all levels of Division I programs.
But just how good is Alabi?
That answer will take a while to surface. Alabi probably won't be an instant impact player as a freshman. He is being brought along slowly at Montverde. So slowly, Alabi didn't play in two of three games at Montverde's eight team tournament last weekend.
For now, Alabi is a practice superstar, says his coach Kevin Sutton.
"He will go two inches forward and then take two giant steps back," Sutton said. "He's playing like a raw big man."
Coaches came in to see Alabi in the summer or they may have caught a glimpse of him in July at the AAU Nationals. They have seen a long-armed big man that can run the floor. Alibi knows he still has a ways to go with his individual skill level.
"I have improved a lot since I've been here," Alabi said. "Most especially in my offense. I have been working hard everyday in practice and trying to improve my hook shot.
"Honestly speaking, back home I was never pushed this hard or played at this high of a level," Alabi said. "I have never had to work this hard before."
The high-majors are keeping close tabs on him regardless of his raw potential. Alabi and Sutton said Florida State, Ohio State, St. Joseph's, Virginia and Wake Forest have inquired and keep in touch.
Sutton says coaches like Alabi's willingness to improve.
"Solomon is definitely a sponge. He is so receptive to teaching and learning," Sutton said. "This is only his third year of organized basketball and truth be told, it is really his first year of organized basketball being here (in the United States)."
Time will tell just how good Alibi can be. Continued work with Sutton in the off season and a trip to the Nike All-American camp is on the slate for the summer.