As our series of scouting reports at the Tech Lunch Pail continues, we have broken down each newcomer who will be fighting for minutes on Virginia Tech’s roster. Those players are Hunter Cattoor, Jalen Cone, John Ojiako, Nahiem Alleyne, and Branden Johnson.
We now shift our focus to another recent addition to the roster that will not be eligible this coming season: Wofford transfer Keve Aluma.
Aluma, a 6-9 power forward from Maryland played two seasons at Wofford before following coach Mike Young to Virginia Tech. He will not be eligible to play this season and will have to sit out a year (although in today’s era of transfer waivers, one can never be so sure).
Aluma fits the prototypical mold of a big man in Young’s system. Much like Ojiako and Johnson, Aluma is in the 6-8 to 6-10 range with supreme athleticism.
Young prefers to use his athletic bigs to create space for his plethora of shooters and occasionally make plays when needed.
This play is a good example of how Aluma’s role when he becomes eligible will shape out. It’s a simple play, but the result is effective. Aluma recognizes his teammate curling from the baseline and sets a screen, creating just enough space for the shooter to knock down the shot.
Young has done a good job so far of rounding up shooters, and he is bound to have recruited and developed more come the 2020 season. Aluma has the potential to fit in nicely on that team in part due to his effectiveness setting screens.
Aluma will also be asked to make plays at the basket when the defense is locking down those shooters.
On this play, the defense takes a chance by trapping the point guard. As the trap fails and #10 can pass the ball out, Aluma recognizes that there are now four defenders on the outside and only one in the paint. The lone defender has a choice to make, and he chooses to focus on the corner shooter, leaving the paint open.
Aluma waits for the defender to make this choice, then cuts to the basket for a wide-open dunk once the defender’s eyes are off him.
Plays like these can force the defense to pay attention to the post and the outside, allowing for more spacing on the floor and more open shots. Without these plays, the defense would put their entire focus on preventing outside shots, and the shooters would be unable to get good looks.
Aluma has a history of basketball in his family. His father, Peter, was a star for Liberty University from 1993-97. Peter earned All-Big South honors three times in his career and was inducted into the Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018.
Peter made it to the NBA for a brief stint with the Sacramento Kings, and eventually ended up playing a season for the Harlem Globetrotters.
Athleticism runs in the Aluma family, as Keve and Peter’s basketball careers have been defined by their rim protection.
Keve accrued 44 blocks in his two seasons at Wofford. And while that pales in comparison to his father’s legendary numbers at Liberty (366 blocks in four years, a 3.1 average per game), he still can be a great shot-blocker given the proper development.
Aluma certainly possesses the talent, he just has steps to take as far as his basketball instincts go.
On this play, Aluma does a good job initially of protecting the paint and then picking his man back up. However, on this play, he fails to utilize a good opportunity to contest the layup at the rim. The guard scores with no contest.
Aluma does a good job of taking up space in the paint, but a true rim protector should have the instinct to go after the ball on shots like that. Many more blocks can come if he develops a ball-hawking mentality.
On this play, Aluma makes a mistake in choosing how to defend the screen. Instead of recognizing that his teammate is picking up the screener, he chooses to try and do the same. This leaves Aluma’s man wide open on the outside for the three-pointer.
Aluma ideally should have stayed with his man, plugging up the only hole in the defense. These mistakes, however, can very easily be limited by practice and repetition. He will have many opportunities during this ineligible season to learn more and become a smarter defender.
The Hokies will certainly miss Aluma’s presence this season, especially given their lack of depth in the post.
However, Hokie fans should be excited about what Aluma will bring to the table in 2020. His leadership combined with his size and athleticism will help set up star guards like Jalen Cone, Wabissa Bede, Landers Nolley, and talented 2020 recruit Joe Bamisile to carry this team forward under Mike Young.
Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
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