TheInsiders.com has Al Horford ranked as the No. 55 player in America entering his senior season. He’s a terrific prospect but a mere number does little justice to who he is and where his game stands. Want to know about the real Al Horford, here’s a story.
During the adidas Big Time, Horford and Michigan Mustangs teammate Drew Neitzel were on fire. Horford was the lone big man that the Mustangs had in their arsenal and he was going to work all week long. In a bit of a surprise, the Mustangs advanced all the way to the title game were the most formidable frontline in AAU history was waiting.
Horford battled that day. He fought through questionable foul calls and did all he could against the Celtics trio. Clearly, he played with heart, guts and fire. When it was all over, and he had used every last foul allowable, he took a seat on the bench.
Al Horford couldn’t bear to watch. With a towel draped over his head, hiding his emotions from everyone, he cried. He did so because he cared. He had poured so much into that effort and winning meant so much to him.
From our perspective that was the moment that defined him as a player. I’m not sure I saw a guy take an AAU loss that hard all summer long. Winning –- especially as an underdog – meant that much to Horford. Toss in his desire with his blossoming skills and you can bet this kid is going to produce at Michigan.
Noted as a rebounder and shot blocker entering the summer, Horford worked on his offense and continues to do so. “I think I still gotta do a lot on my game and I’m just getting started,” he said. “I’m working on my shooting and my weightlifting that I never did. I want to be able to shoot that 15-17 shot a little better.”
And he will because he’s growing into his body and his skills are starting to catch up. A second-tier target for a number of schools, it’s quite possible those programs missed the boat. When UCLA and Kansas showed up to do an in-home visit with him on Tuesday, those guys were too late. He had already committed (Horford said Florida was his second choice).
Don’t be surprised four years from now if those coaches aren’t the only ones who are surprised.