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Points In The Paint: Welcome Back, Shack!

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Alabama retains the services of its star guard

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Maryland at Alabama Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

First, to the good news: Alabama Junior Guard and leading scorer Jaden Shackelford is coming back after a flirtation with the NBA Draft and then the Transfer Portal:

The Alabama Crimson Tide hoops team is one that is in transition this season, particularly when it comes to scorers. After his stellar combine, the Tide lost fast-rising PG Josh Primo to the NBA. Senior shooting guard John Petty and Senior all-everything Herb Jones have moved on, where both look to be second-round selections. That is going to leave a lot to the stellar recruiting class that features Jusuan Holt and JD Davison in the backcourt.

Jahvon Quinerly and his 14.5 PPG will return, but the rest of the backcourt and wing positions are big on potential and light on starting experience — Keon Ambrose-Hylton, Juwan Gary, Keon Ellis, and Darius Miles are also returning, with KAH and Gary having tons of potential and Ellis poised for a big year Still, losing a shooter would have been devastating, especially one with such a nice perimeter stroke.

Last season, Shack was impressive in many metrics. He was Alabama’s leading scorer, averaging 15 PPG, he shot 49% from the field, 35% from long range, improved his assists and steals, and his win contribution efficiency went from 3.8 to 7 for ‘Bama. Bart Tovik’s deep analytical dive has Shackelford as Alabama’s best returning player for 2021-2022.

That does not mean that there are not areas where he can improve. While Jaden was active on the defensive glass, in many areas he did see some slippage. His defensive efficiency dropped off, as did his adjusted rebounding across the board — in particular, his offensive rebounding has been singled out as needing work. (And, to point out the obvious, that is largely a function of needing to improve cleaning up around the net — so many missed layups.).

There were many rumors as to why Shackelford entered the portal, and we won’t dive into them here. But, if he ever wanted a chance to polish up his game for next year’s draft, as well as be the undisputed go-to shooter, this is his time to shine. Much of Alabama’s scheme — and its 2022 season — will rely on that improvement.

Roll Tide