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December 11, 2008

Alabi is enjoying every second

As a true freshman, Solomon Alabi played in nine games before an injury ended his season. After being granted a medical redshirt, the now redshirt freshman is back on the court and starting at center for the Seminoles.

Through nine games this season, the 'Noles' 7-foot-1 center is averaging nearly eight points, five rebounds, and just under two blocks a game.

While he is fully recovered from last season's injury, it took a while for the Nigeria native to get back into playing shape.

"You can't make up for a guy missing as much time as Solomon did in a matter of a month or two," head coach Leonard Hamilton said. "It took him a while to get back to feeling normal, but I think you are starting to see flashes of his potential."

When Alabi first returned to the court earlier this season it quickly became apparent that it would take a little time to get himself fully conditioned.

"I had to get back into game-shape," Alabi said. "It took me a few minutes to get the feelings back of everything going on around me on the court. Then I just had to work on getting back to where I was before I got hurt. I think I am back there."

And with his conditioning back to where it should be, Alabi has made some significant contributions. He has started every game this season, made his presence felt on defense in the paint and has improved his offensive production.

"He is coming along," Hamilton said. "He has a lot of talent and a great desire to succeed. Solomon does everything we ask of him. He works hard. He is trying to play himself back into shape but he has shown improvement every time on the court."

That improvement and his conditioning was very evident in the 11-point, 8-rebound effort against Florida.

"The good thing, he was able to play 34 minutes and his stamina was good. That was the first time he has played probably more than 20 minutes this year," Hamilton said. "He really didn't want to come out of the game. He said, 'I will make my free throws.' We challenged them before the game to win the battle and we had to play through fatigue if we got tired and I thought they all reached down deep inside, especially Solomon since he is trying to play himself back into shape."

Associate Head Coach Stan Jones, who works a great deal with the forwards and centers, said he sees an increase in confidence with Alabi every time he steps onto the court.

"He is still trying to gain confidence in his game but there are things that he knows he can go to right now that play to his strengths," Jones said. "He has reached a point where he is comfortable with certain things we are asking him to do and there are other parts of his game that he still has to work on."

Alabi has also made an impression on teammates with his ability to make big plays in the paint on both sides of the court.

"He has been big for us blocking shots, rebounding, and just being a big presence right there in the lane for us," Junior forward Ryan Reid. "That is something we didn't have last year when he wasn't able to play. Now we are just using it to our advantage."

For Alabi though, it isn't points, rebounds, or blocked shots that make him smile, it is just being able to be back on the court.

"I am just excited to be playing," he said. "I don't think I will ever hate playing. I enjoy every minute I get to play. I just go and play 100% hard whenever I get the chance to play."

Florida State returns to action on Saturday afternoon when they travel to Georgia State. That game is set to tip-off at 4 p.m.


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