Way back in late July, Ridiculous Upside took a look at Lauri Markkanen after his fabulous performance in the FIBA U-20 European Championship. In that tournament, Markkanen averaged an incredible 24.9 points, 8.7 rebounds (2.7 offensive) and 2.3 steals per game on 50% from the field. Alongside analyzing his dominance, we took a short look at what he could do during his freshman season at the University of Arizona.
One topic that we didn’t touch on during that July piece was the fantastic recruiting class that Markannen was a significant part of. Alongside Markkanen, Arizona also brought in fellow five-star prospects Rawle Alkins and Kobi Simmons. As Markkanen stands as the future of Arizona’s front-court, both Alkins and Simmons will both look to be the leaders of the team’s back-court attack. This week, we’re going to take a look at both Arizona guards, where we’ll start out with Rawle Alkins
From the initial moment that you look at Alkins, you see a young man that looks more like an NFL strong safety than a young shooting guard. That’s due to Alkins possessing an incredibly strong 6’5, 225 pound frame, which allows him to already have an NBA ready body. Alongside that strong frame, Alkins possess strong lateral quickness and solid explosiveness. Those physical gifts ultimately help Alkins succeed on both ends of the court
On the offensive end, Alkins does a terrific job of using those physical gifts as an on-ball cutter. Starting with an incredibly strong first-step, Alkins does a great job of consistently working around that initial defender. After that initial breakdown is where Alkins really shines.
On those drive towards the rim, Alkins showcases himself as a solid ball-handler as he displays solid spin-moves or hesitation dribbles to get around any defenders that are in his way. Although he’s definitely more than capable of laying down a huge slam, a lot of Alkins work from inside the paint occurs when he’s driving into contact. Alkins actually looks very comfortable of being able to score around contact, as he’s able to use his strong frame to get an advantage on the opposition.
Another way that Alkins can use those physical gifts to his advantage is as an offensive rebounder. As a 6’5 guard, Alkins looks really comfortable with squeezing his way into the paint, even if it’s crowded by opposing bigs. That willingness is seen in the play below, as Alkins seemingly comes out of nowhere to put in the missed shot attempt.
Transitioning from the paint to the perimeter, Alkins shines as a solid shooter with plenty of range. That range is helped by Alkins maintaining a pretty solid shooting stroke that’s quick and has a high release point. At least as a perimeter shooter, Alkins does most of his work through catch-and-shoots. Although he can work off the dribble, he mainly utilizes that skill from inside the arc.
Although Alkins stands as a 6’5 guard with a solid offensive skill-set, he stands as a solid facilitator. For someone that’s such a solid scorer, it’s impressive to see just how unselfish Alkins actually is. That unselfish nature ultimately leads to Alkins working as a facilitator as he’s able to work the ball to surrounding teammates. Whether he’s on the perimeter or cutting towards the paint, Alkins looks very comfortable with moving the ball towards a teammate.
On the defensive end, Alkins has plenty of potential. That potential is due to his strong frame and solid lateral quickness, as he can stick with either a cutting point or shooting guard. That combination of skills could allow Atkins to be a pain in the ass to most opposing players, as he could use his strong 225 pound frame to just be a bully throughout the game.
As Rawle Alkins transitions into his career at Arizona, he’ll have a chance to lead a team that has a legitimate chance to win the Pac-12. Outside of possibly Kentucky or Duke, Arizona is a team that might have the most raw talent in all of college basketball. Alongside their big five-star recruits (Alkins, Markkanen and Simmons), Arizona also features senior Kadeem Allen, sophomore Allonzo Trier and redshirt freshman Ray Smith, who was a top-20 recruit in 2015.
Surrounded by that vast amount of talent, Alkins should have an opportunity to fully showcase his all-around game. That singular opportunity should allow Alkins to be one of the more entertaining freshmen in college basketball.