Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports
With the Alabama basketball season over, it’s time to look back at the season that was in Tuscaloosa. For starters, we are going to review each player, and for the ones coming back, we’re going to let you know what they need to improve on in 2013-14 in order for the Crimson Tide to live up to their potential next season. We are going by class, so we’ll start with the freshman, then the sophomores, juniors, and then finish it up with the lone senior.
Here’s the schedule:
4/10: Nick Jacobs
4/11: Levi Randolph
4/12: Carl Engstrom
4/13: Moussa Gueye
4/14: Trevor Releford
4/15: Andrew Steele
With the loss of JaMychal Green, a lot of weight was put on Nick Jacobs’ shoulders to pick up the slack in the post. Jacobs flashed potential as a true freshman in Tuscaloosa with his ability to score with his left hand.
Early on this season, however, Jacobs struggled. He got off to a slow start out of the gate, and really didn’t come into his own until conference play. He scored in double figures only once during non-conference action, but he came alive in SEC play and scored in double figures in 11 of the team’s 20 games against conference foes.
21.0 MPG, 7.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 54 FG%
His coming out party came in Alabama’s 59-55 win over Kentucky in January at Coleman Coliseum. He scored 14 points and grabbed 5 rebounds against potential No. 1 overall pick Nerlens Noel.
Jacobs had two double doubles this season with a 16 and 11 game against Mississippi State and a 10 and 10 against Auburn. He also scored 18 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in a loss to Ole Miss.
His scoring was a big boost to the team during conference play as he averaged nearly 10 points per game, but he also made an impact defensively and on the glass. If Jacobs would have played a full season like he did during conference play, then there is a pretty good chance Alabama would have avoided a couple of their bad out of conference losses and they would have more than likely earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament because of it.
Must Improve: Right Hand
Anthony Grant should tie Nick Jacobs’ left hand behind his back and force him to use his right hand all summer. The one thing holding Jacobs back from becoming one of the premier post players in the SEC is the fact that he is so one dimensional offensively. He goes left nearly every time, and even when he goes right he goes left.
He has to develop his right hand if he truly wants to become of the best frontcourt players in the league next season. If he can do that, then he will give Alabama a legitimate threat in the post to go along with their bevy of weapons on the perimeter.
Jacobs added some bulk between his freshman and sophomore campaigns, and really was able to bully opposing defenders on the block. It would help him if he was able to play his more natural position a little bit more next year, though. Jacobs is a natural power forward, but has been forced to play center with the Crimson Tide.
With Moussa Gueye planning to transfer, Jacobs may not have the luxury of playing the four much next season. With Carl Engstrom returning from his ACL injury, and the addition of Jimmie Taylor, the sixth ranked high school center in the country according to rivals.com, Jacobs should see some time there next season, but he’ll also likely be called upon to play the five a good bit.
If Alabama is going to take a big leap next season, they are going to need Nick Jacobs to become a force on the block. If he can put up JaMychal Green-like numbers next season (14 points, 7 rebounds), then Alabama should have no trouble getting into the NCAA Tournament and making some serious noise.
Follow John on Twitter.