University of Alabama forward Donta Hall made most of the national highlight shows over the weekend with a spectacular dunk off a lob pass in the Crimson Tide’s 81-71 loss at Kentucky. But it was a more quiet field goal — a 15-foot jumper — that raised some eyebrows about Hall’s offensive development.
“That’s the next level in his development,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said on Monday’s SEC teleconference. “If he can develop that, it’s lights out.
“If he can step away from the basket and make teams come out and guard him, that creates some ‘pick and pop’ situations. That’s the next phase in his evolution.”
Over the last five games, as he regains strength in the right wrist that was surgically repaired last month, Hall has blossomed, averaging 15.0 points and 8.4 rebounds. He has made 32 of his last 38 shots from the field (74 percent) and has made 75.1 percent of his field goal tries this year. That figure ranks second in the country among players who have attempted 125 shots or more. Kansas’ 7-foot, 290-pound center Udoka Azebuike leads the nation at 76.8 percent (170 of 221).
Johnson would no doubt like to see Hall be a prominent factor in the Crimson Tide’s Wednesday game at No. 12 Auburn. The Tigers lost their top interior defender on Saturday when 6-7 Anfernee McLemore suffered a dislocated ankle and broken tibia against South Carolina. McLemore’s 73 blocked shots are the most in the SEC this season.
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said Monday that McLemore had surgery on Sunday and would be out for approximately four months.
In the wake of McLemore’s injury, Pearl says Horace Spencer and Chuma Okeke will split time at center. Okeke will also continue to play some power forward behind Desean Murray, as could either Malik Dunbar and Mustapha Heron if the team gets in foul trouble.