Who to watch: Jaden Shackelford. Much like Linus in the pumpkin patch, Bama basketball fans watch and wait with great anticipation each year hoping to see the ever elusive “pure shooter” that always seems to appear in other uniforms but never crimson and white. But this freshman guard from California’s desert country may finally be the one to quench the drought. A Top 100 recruit, he averaged 34 points per game his senior season including four consecutive 50-point games. His reputation is that of a fearless long-distance shooter, which fits nicely with the shoot early, shoot often mentality Nate Oats wants from the Tide’s offense. After going just 2-for-7 from the floor in Bama’s first scrimmage against Jacksonville State, Shackelford found his groove against Georgia Tech, going 6-for-10 from 3-point range.
What to watch for: How does Alabama’s limited frontcourt hold up against A.J. Brodeur? He won’t be the biggest or most hyped big man the Crimson Tide faces this season, but the 6-foot-8 Quakers senior is talented enough to create headaches for Oats’ debut. A two-time All-Ivy League selection, Brodeur led Penn with 17.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game last year. That could be a matchup problem for whoever draws him, either the slow-footed Galen Smith or the defensively-challenged Alex Reese. Paint play figures to be the defining weakness of this team, and Brodeur is a stiff test of how well those holes have been patched.
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