.MBB/WBB How Donta Hall has become the next big thing at Alabama


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They gave him a standing ovation. They then chanted his name.

"Donta Hall! Donta Hall! Donta Hall!" the crowd shouted in unison.

Alabama's junior forward walked off the floor at Coleman Coliseum like a rock star Tuesday, leaving a reel of highlights in his wake and an audience thirsting for more.

But there would be no encore for Hall. His night was over with more than seven minutes remaining in the Crimson Tide's resounding 80-65 victory over LSU. By then, the Tigers had been staggered by a series of haymakers Hall delivered in the form of dunks and three-point plays that made the 11,154 in attendance roar with excitement.

"Looked like he was playing on a nerf goal out there," LSU coach Will Wade said with a tinge of awe and plenty of bewilderment after Hall scored 20 points.
Wade had not seen the Tide's 6-foot-9 post player earlier this year, when Alabama defeated the Tigers by eight points in Baton Rouge on Jan. 13. He had been sidelined with a wrist injury that required surgery.

It was the only game he missed during a season that has defied expectations. Once seen as a liability on offense, Hall is now the second-leading scorer on the Tide -- asserting himself on the low blocks, playing above the rim and stealing some of the spotlight from the ballyhooed freshman class that seemed destined to keep him in the shadows. On this particular night, Hall was the recipient of multiple alley-oop passes, finding a way to maneuver into the smallest of openings before catching the ball and slamming it down.

In an age when big men are now required to step out and shoot from beyond the arc, Hall has carved out a niche as a traditional big man.

Somehow, he has found a way to produce on a consistent basis despite having such limited range.

Alabama coach Johnson said it's because Hall "understands spacing."

"He's making himself available," Johnson said.

And as the old saying goes, eighty percent of success in life is showing up.

The remaining part of that equation, in Hall's case, is becoming more self-assured.

"Donta Hall has more confidence in his physical body," Johnson said earlier this week. "He finds ways to be successful because he is stronger now. He is more confident physically, which breeds confidence into his entire game. It's been a roller coaster with him in terms of gaining that confidence because he just wasn't strong enough."

Hall arrived at Alabama three years ago as a beanstalk, barely weighing more than a free safety despite being a shade under seven feet.
Since the end of his sophomore campaign, he's gained 15 pounds and Hall said the added mass has "played a big part" in the great leap forward he has taken this season.

More evidence of the transformation Hall has undergone was on display Tuesday, when he tormented LSU.

He made eight of his ten shots from the floor and also snagged eight rebounds. The body of work was impressive enough to draw praise. But like any good showman he went out with a flourish, making sure no one would forget what he'd done. During a 26-3 run in the second half, when Alabama suppressed a surge by LSU and then put the game away, he managed to catch an errant entry pass mid-air and throw it in the basket while being fouled. Moments later, he converted the front end of a three-point play after absorbing contact as he slammed the ball through the hoop.

"Just dunked everything," Wade said. "Hall played a tremendous game."

It was the kind of performance worthy of a standing ovation. And the Alabama crowd delivered one on cue, celebrating a player whose inside play is reverberating much in the same way his name did inside Coleman Coliseum on Tuesday.



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if this Kid could hit his free throws he could be amazing. They need to feed him more down low. Iv been watching as many Bama games this season as possible. With sexton on the perimeter...and if Bama can improve working the ball around to get to Hall.....Could be a great team, not just good. Thats the one thing Bama really needs to improve on ...is working the ball, better passes (not lazy passes that cause turnovers) and players to keep moving around to get open.

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