June 16, 2011

UA commits play together at Nike Elite 100

Two years from now point guard Jaren Sina and big man Shannon Hale will be playing together for the University of Alabama basketball team.

Last weekend, the two 2013 Crimson Tide commitments got a preview of what that will be like when they were selected to play on the same team at the Nike Elite 100 in St. Louis. The event is the nation's premier basketball event for the top underclassmen.

"It was really good," Sina said. "I played really well. I got to compete against some of the top players in the country. I also got to play with Shannon Hale on the same team. It was a lot of fun. Having a big guy that talented on the same team at the camp helped so much. He's a great kid, and I can't wait to play with him in a couple years."

Hale, a Rivals 100 player from Johnson City, Tenn., also enjoyed the camp and came away as one of the most outstanding big men who competed in the event.

"It went pretty good," Hale said. "I liked it. There was a lot of competition. The coaches were saying I was one of the best-skilled big men there, so I think I did pretty good.

As for playing together, there was no rhyme or reason for the two future Alabama players to be placed on the same team. It was a mere coincidence. However, both players noticed an instant connection on the court.

"There was definitely a connection," Sina said. "With him being on my team, I tried to feed him a lot. It was kind of cool playing with him and knowing that I'm going to be with him in the next couple of years. He's a great post player. He can shoot, too.

"I actually had a really cool play. I went down the lane, and I threw him an alley-oop, and he dunked it with two hands. It was pretty sweet."

Hale also noticed the connection between the two and was impressed with the New Jersey point guard's court sense and overall feel for the game.

"He's a good player, real high basketball IQ," Hale said of Sina. "I just liked playing with him because he knows what to do. We had a connection. He was throwing oops to me, and (we) used the pick and roll a little bit."

Before the event, Hale and Sina had only met once at Alabama's individual camp last August, but the two have kept in contact through Facebook. Both players plan to attend the Crimson Tide's individual camp again this summer.

Sina will be down in Tuscaloosa even sooner as he and his high school teammates from Gill St. Bernard's School in New Jersey are scheduled to compete in Alabama's high school team camp next weekend.

The team plans to come down a few days early to help out with the tornado relief efforts.

"At my high school, we raised some money for the tornado victims, and we're going to come down and help for four or five days," Sina said.

Reach Greg Ostendorf at greg@tidesports.com.

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