The light has turned on for Solomon Alabi. The 7-foot-1, 230-pound center from Montverde (Fla.) Academy is making daily progressions in his game. Talk about perfect timing.
Since February, Alabi has made the transformation from a bench cheerleader to one of the fastest rising prospects in the country.
At Montverde's high school tournament in February, Alabi spent the majority of the time on the bench, watching his teammates instead of being a force at both ends. Since then, the four-star center has put in the work with Montverde Academy head coach Kevin Sutton and Nike Team Florida and the progress is showing.
"Solomon is coming along at a great pace," Sutton said.
Alabi was one of the top players at the NBA Players Association camp in Richmond, Va., and impressed Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Jerry Meyer.
"First of all, Alabi is playing with more aggression and confidence right now," Meyer said. "He is banging more inside and competing for rebounds and contesting shots. Offensively, he is scoring consistently with his jump hook, which looks very smooth. Still needs strength and his hands are not the best, but he has looked better and better every time I have seen him in April, May and June."
"What a lot of people don't realize is that was his first full year of organized basketball," Sutton said. "And in the last five months, he has been working extremely hard and gaining a lot of confidence in his game.
Alabi was the playoff MVP of the 5-star camp held at Florida State and was named the camp's best defender. A week later, he helped his Montverde team win seven straight games at FSU's team camp before leaving for the NBA Players Association camp. After he left, Montverde went 0-2.
"He's developed his offensive skills, especially his jump hook. He's getting it up with a full extension and has good lift when he gets under the basket," Sutton said. "He is getting better in the post, which is a positive, and he's running the floor better. All he can do is continue to improve.
"A lot of it is just getting his feet under him and that comes with the drills we've been able to run and playing on the weekends with Nike Team Florida and that has been really good for him. He is so much better than what he was this time last year. This year has been good for him. We've been drilling him everyday and now you are starting to see what he's becoming. It's been unbelievable."
Alabi will certainly be a must-see name for the high-majors but Sutton said the interest level in his promising big man is still the same.
"It's pretty much the same suitors," Sutton said.
Florida State, St. Joe's, Virginia, Ohio State, Indiana, Clemson and Arizona have beat the summer rush and made strong in-roads with Alabi.
"They've all done the best job. They've been in it the longest time," Sutton said. "Before the season starts, he'll set up his home visits and campus visits because the plan is for him to sign early."
Alabi will play at the Nike All-American camp on July 6-9. He will leave for Africa on July 12 to play for the African Junior National team. Alabi will spend a month in Africa before returning home in August.