He’s a man without a position even at a (listed) 6-foot-5, but Rawle Alkins has embraced it. It’s not a hindrance but an asset.
Good thing for Arizona is he realizes — after workouts for NBA teams and the NBA Combine — he must get better to have a long and not fleeting career at the next level.
“That’s (something) that teams love about me,” said Alkins at a press conference Monday afternoon to speak about his official return for his sophomore season at UA. “They love the fact that I’m a versatile player. They tell me I’m one of these hybrid kids.”
In my mind, he’ll forever be “The Jeep” – a player who can go anywhere and do everything. He’s durable yet has ability to show finesse. He can be gritty yet look good.
Still, The Jeep needs a jump shot.
“I’m using that for motivation for this year,” he said. “I will continue to be in the gym every night until the first game of the season shooting 1,000 shots a day.”
The point is, he wants – and needs – to get better. He’ll likely still be Arizona tough small forward who has the ability to get rebounds because of his aggressiveness and strong physique.
Miller said he doesn’t necessarily have to have Alkins at a certain position – offensively or defensively – but just have him get better, just as he is now compared to what he looked like and played like a year ago before arriving at UA.
“That’s to his credit because he loves the game and he lives in the gym,” said Arizona coach Sean Miller, who said it was easy to sit at the press conference and feel good with the return of Alkins.
“With another five months (who knows how much better he’ll be) …. We don’t necessarily have to find him a position, it’s more about him developing where from a year from now he’s a better overall player and more prepared player. That’s what college basketball is all about.”
Perhaps, more importantly, Miller said Alkins has a “healthy chip on his shoulder” and the next few months create an opportunity for him to get better.
It’s likely he started getting better right after the press conference, maybe a short time later.
His press conference came just less than 24 hours after making it public he was going to return to help Arizona win a national championship. He said after telling Miller about his decision, “we had our cheers.”
When asked what tipped the scales to return (other than the feedback), he said, “the trust in coach Miller and trust in UA. (So) the next time I make that jump, I’ll be in better position.”
Even if he doesn’t have one at the next level, the Jeep will be fine.