Alabama Basketball: Noah Clowney belongs in ‘best freshman’ talks

Alabama basketball may boast two of the top-five freshmen in college basketball. Superstar wing Brandon Miller gets most of the shine, but forward Noah Clowney has flown under the radar while being one of the most impactful players in the SEC.

At a lanky 6’10”, Clowney came to Alabama as a 4-star recruit in the class of 2022. The South Carolina native was considered the 79th best player in the nation and the second best player in his state, per the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Noah Clowney began exceeding expectations as soon as he stepped on campus, earning a starting role in the Alabama frontcourt by the first game of the season. Since then, Clowney has started all 16 games he has played in, and been one of the Crimson Tide’s best players.

He is currently averaging 9.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game. Despite only recording one double-double, Clowney has narrowly missed several, scoring in double figures seven times and rebounding in double figures five times.

The freshman’s best performances include a 22-point, nine-rebound outing against South Dakota State and a 16-point, 11-rebound showing in a road win over no. 1 Houston.

Clowney also posted nine points and 13 rebounds in a loss to Gonzaga, and recorded season-highs of 15 rebounds and three blocks in a win over South Alabama.

He has proven to be Alabama’s most consistent interior presence, and one of the steadiest players in college basketball. He has scored at least eight points in 13 of 16 games and grabbed at least eight rebounds in 11 of 16 games, while blocking at least one shot in 13 of 16 games.

While he is a streaky shooter, Noah Clowney has also proven the ability to stretch the floor. He is only shooting 29.6 percent from the three-point line, but can quickly get hot and must be respected on the perimeter. Clowney hit five three-pointers against South Dakota State and went 3-4 from the outside against Arkansas.

Noah Clowney’s versatility and consistency set him apart, and his maturity and leadership skills are almost unprecedented for a true freshman. If it wasn’t for a generational talent like Brandon Miller, we would be talking about Clowney as one of the best freshmen to play for Alabama basketball in recent memory.

With elite athleticism and a super-high ceiling, Clowney currently projects as a second-round draft pick. While he could opt to return, Alabama basketball fans should assume he will be a one-and-done product for the time being.

Regardless of how long it lasts, Noah Clowney’s time in Tuscaloosa should be celebrated and appreciated, because he is one of the most special freshmen in college hoops.