Who is Solomon Alabi
Everyone is asking. Coaches. Fans. Writers. NBA scouts. Everyone. So just who is Solomon Alabi? The 7-foot-1, 230-pound center from Montverde (Fla.) Academy is a come from nowhere national prospect that debuted at No. 30 in the latest edition of the Rivals.com class of 2007 rankings. But he's more than just a rankings riser. He could be one of the best big men in the country.
Alibi came to Florida two and a half months ago from Nigeria and word is starting to get out about the big man. And the word is good according to those that have already seen him play.
Montverde Academy head coach Kevin Sutton has seen and coached his fair share of big time prospects and he believes Alibi has a chance to be special.
"His potential is just tremendous," Sutton said. "Luckily for us, he came from an English speaking country so language is not a barrier. He's well-schooled so he doesn't have any bad habits. He's not bringing the ball down and things like that. He's a visual learner. Everything that we have shown him just sticks. Solomon is a very smart kid."
Unlike most players that come to the United States from Africa, Alabi said he's never played soccer. Instead of playing kickball, Alabi spent his time on the basketball court and watching the NBA on television. He's picked a good role model to pattern his game after.
"Tim Duncan is my favorite player. I like the way he plays the game," Alabi said. "I like his character, too. I would love it if I can play like him.
"I came here because I wanted to have more knowledge and improve my skills in the game I love," Alabi said. "Coming here will help me get to a higher level. My dream is to make it to the NBA and if I study and work hard, I think I can get there."
So does Sutton.
"He's the real deal," Sutton said. "Had the NBA not passed that rule, he could be a guy that's ready to go after one year here. I'm not kidding. Of course, weight will be a factor but he's got unbelievable timing. For a kid like him to come here and already have the timing and the hands and the footwork he has is amazing. He's going to be very, very, very good."
A number of coaches saw the center play in one game at the AAU Nationals in Orlando in July and many have made their way to the Sunshine State to see Alibi in open gyms at Montverde.
"I don't know much about college basketball," Alabi said. "I didn't get to watch it in Nigeria."
Don't be fooled. College basketball knows who he is.
Florida State, St. Joseph's and Ohio State, who has offered according to Sutton, have all taken notice. Many more will certainly follow as word gets out about Alabi.
He describes himself as a player that shines on the defensive end of the floor as a shot-blocker and rebounder. Offensively, his footwork helps his post moves and effectiveness on the blocks.
Humble and somewhat naive to the recruiting process, it's easy to get the sense that this big man is ready to get down to business on the court and in the classroom.
Don't know who Alabi is? You will.