Alabama Basketball Newcomer Breakdown: Aden Holloway

The former 5-star recruit will look to rekindle his confidence and find new footing after a change of scenery.
Aden Holloway on his official visit to Alabama
Aden Holloway on his official visit to Alabama / Holloway's Instagram page (@ucancallmebiz)

This is the third in an 8-part series where BamaCentral's Blake Byler will break down the numbers and the film to give you everything you need to know about each of Alabama basketball's 2024-25 newcomers. 

Aden Holloway did what few have dared to do this offseason, transferring from the Auburn Tigers to the Alabama Crimson Tide in a move that sent shockwaves through the state of Alabama.

Holloway, a 6-foot-1 guard, was a highly-touted 5-star recruit in the 2023 cycle. He committed to Auburn and was named a McDonald's All-American, being ranked as a top-20 player in the entire class.

After his first game, he looked to be following in the footsteps of Jared Harper and Sharife Cooper as the next great Auburn point guard, scoring 19 points in his debut against Baylor in a heavyweight season-opening matchup. But this blossoming star was soon stunted by a series of struggles.

After scoring double figures in six of his first nine games, Holloway only broke the 10-point mark three times over the final three months of the season. His efficiency plummeted on all fronts, and his confidence was clearly shaken. By the end of the season, he averaged 7.3 points and 2.7 assists per game while shooting just 31.8 percent from the floor and 30.2 percent from beyond the arc.

Holloway decided to look elsewhere for the continuation of his college basketball career, landing at Alabama, where he feels he can blossom into the player he was expected to be based off high school evaluations.

So, let's take a look at some of the film from Holloway's freshman year at Auburn, and evaluate how this clearly talented player can take a step forward in a new system with fresh scenery:

When Holloway was on, these were the kinds of shots he was hitting. He was believed by many to be one of the best 3-point shooters in the entire 2023 class, and clips like this make it understandable why.

He has the ability to nail incredibly difficult shots, as seen in both above clips. Against Missouri, he uses a behind-the-back dribble to step back into space and pull a deep three, while against Baylor, he takes one dribble off a handoff and somehow drains an off-balance look from distance.

His jumper is undeniably smooth and effortless, there's no overthought or presence of glaring mechanical issues. The question then becomes, if he has the ability combined with good shot mechanics, why did he shoot so poorly?

The answer seems to lie in shot selection. Holloway hunted many of his shots off the dribble, and posted an effective field goal percentage of 40 percent when doing so. That mark ranked in just the 27th percentile among all college basketball players in off-the-dribble shooting. What's more, he made only 16-of-56 attempts from deep as a pick-and-roll ball handler, which comes out to 28.6 percent.

As it turns out, Holloway was a significantly better shooter in spot-up actions, defined as an action that begins with a stationary catch. Holloway made 23-of-52 shots from downtown as a spot-up shooter, which comes out to a much better 44.2 percent, over 15 percent higher than his off-the-dribble clip.

In fact, Holloway averaged 1.29 points per possession in spot-up actions, whether it be a catch-and-shoot or a downhill drive off the catch. That mark ranked him in the 93rd percentile among college basketball players.

It's reasonable to expect Holloway to get significant amounts of playing time off the ball in Alabama's offense, not always having to be the primary initiator or create his own shot. Alabama's offense is centered around getting penetration to create 'shrink 3's' as the defense collapses on a ball handler.

With that kind of space, Holloway will get way more looks like he does against Georgia in the first above clip, as a drive from his teammate draws a second defender and gives him an open look on the outside.

He's also got deep range, as seen in the clip against USC where he pulls up from nearly the logo on a lazy closeout.

The sheer difficulty of shots that Holloway was able to make time and time again at Auburn tells you everything you need to know about his potential as a shooter. What he needs is to rebuild his confidence, something that is much easier to build taking wide open catch-and-shoot threes off penetration as opposed to creating your own shot off the dribble.

Another area Holloway needs to see improvement is his finishing at the rim after making just 38 percent of his attempts at the rim last season.

He has the quickness and explosiveness to get downhill, as seen in the clip against Ole Miss where he blows by a big man that switches onto him. In the second clip against Kentucky, he has first round NBA Draft pick Rob Dillingham on him and blows by in isolation with a simple jab step and go.

Again like his shooting, the talent and ability are there, but it's consistency where the problem lies. In Alabama's offense, consistent rim pressure is needed to be able to collapse the defense and kick out to open shooters. If he's able to improve at the rim, it'll greatly improve his ability to be a contributor to the offense.

Holloway is a talented passer, however, and the numbers support it. He posted a 23 percent assist rate last season, and made a number of highlight-worthy assists that showcased his vision.

In the first clip against Penn, he executes a perfect pocket pass on a pick-and-roll with Johni Broome, while in the second clip against Alabama, he pulls off a flashy mid-air dump-off pass after blowing by Latrell Wrightsell to get Broome a wide open dunk.

With Mark Sears obviously set to man the majority of the lead guard duties, Holloway will have plenty of chances to play off the ball in multi-guard lineups that Oats loves to utilize. It's still unclear how much playing time Holloway is set to get with how loaded Alabama's room of guards is, but having a guard of his talents coming off the bench is immensely valuable.

If Holloway can find his consistent 3-point shot getting higher quality looks and re-gain the confidence that earned him a 5-star rating in the first place, Alabama will be in an unbelievably strong position at guard, able to deploy wave after wave of talent on the opposition.

Some may think Holloway is a risky add due to his struggles last season, but with the return of Sears and the depth of the guard room alongside Wrightsell, Chris Youngblood, Houston Mallette and Labaron Philon, Holloway's addition is low-risk, high-reward for Oats and the Crimson Tide.

And if the change of scenery and system leads to Holloway figuring things out, college basketball might be in trouble.

Check out BamaCentral's previous newcomer breakdowns:

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Blake Byler


Blake Byler is a staff writer for BamaCentral and primarily covers Alabama basketball and football. He has covered a wide variety of Crimson Tide sports since 2021, and began writing full-time for BamaCentral in 2023. You can find him on Twitter/X @blakebyler45.