The Alabama Fusion will be making their 17-and-under Nike Elite Youth Basketball League debut this spring. The Fusion found success with their E16 team in 2018, and a lot of that roster is returning for their final grassroots go-round. The Fusion, sponsored by Alabama-natives Demarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe, will bring an all-junior, all-Alabamian lineup to the circuit. The Fusion is beyond excited about getting started on the 17U circuit.
"We are excited to represent the state of Alabama again on the 17u circuit," said head coach Robert Shannon. "We feel the depth of our roster will allow us to be very competitive. We are looking forward to competing on the best circuit in the country."
Austin Harvell rises for a slam
This group is very talented, but they don't have a go-to star as of year. Austin Harvell, Mark Sears, Colby Jones, and Tommy Murr will lead the way, and the Fusion should be in great hands with their junior guards. Harvell is the team's top-ranked recruit and a certified high-major prospect. The 6-foot-6 playmaker averaged 16.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.8 blocks during the 2018-19 high school season for East Limestone (AL), helping lead the Indians to the regionals. Harvell was named 5A-7A Most Valuable Player and currently holds local offers from Auburn and Alabama. His stock is likely to soar with a strong showing in the EYBL, especially if he rebounds at a high rate. As far as stock-rising goes, the same thing can be said for the rest of the backcourt.
Sears will help run the show for the Fusion, and he will split on-ball time with Murr. The 6-foot Sears has looked super-solid preseason action, and his speed and shiftiness will continue to be an asset for the Fusion in both transition and the halfcourt. Sears was named 1st-Team All-State 6A by the Alabama Sports Writers Association, and he figures to see a massive uptick in his recruitment.
6-foot-6 Colby Jones is a major threat from the perimeter, and the junior is a proven winner, helping Mountain Brook (AL) win a state championship in March. Jones was selected 3rd-Team All-State 7A by the Writers Association, and his physicality and length should make a significant contribution in the Fusion's rotation. He's certainly a contender to lead the team in scoring and three-pointers made, and don't be surprised if he finds his way onto an all-EYBL team by season's end.
A 6-foot-2 junior, Murr has put up some astonishing offensive numbers during his high school career. He averaged 45.1 points per game in 2018-19 for Lindsay Lane Christian (AL) and has already amassed over 4,000 points scored in his career. Murr is a prolific scorer at the high school level, but he will likely take some time to adjust against EYBL athleticism.
The majority of the backcourt was listed in the 'star' section, and the production-by-committee continues as the rest of the backcourt unfolds. 6-foot-4 junior Jadan Coleman will be in the rotation, and the Bob Jones (AL) high school product is widely considered a top 10 junior in the state due to his good size and natural scoring ability. 6-foot junior KJ Jackson is a capable scorer and developing shooter from the perimeter. Jackson is an excellent defender when he's locked in, and he'll provide a major spark off the bench.
The Fusion lack ideal size, meaning Harvell, Jones, and Coleman will undoubtedly see time in the frontcourt. 6-foot-8, 250-pound Reginald Perry Jr is a 3-star defensive end recruit on the gridiron, and he will operate as the biggest player in the Fusion rotation. Perry is a load on the interior, and the 1st-Team All-5A selection will see massive minutes in the undersized frontcourt. 6-foot-6 Tyler Lang was injured late last spring and is just getting back to the level he's capable of playing at. Lang is an impressive athlete with a terrific stroke from the perimeter. 6-foot-7 wing Jamel King is more of a guard, but due to the Fusion's lack of size, he will definitely have to defend bigger players in the frontcourt. King can stroke it from the perimeter and should help on the boards, and in general he has a ton of upside. 6-foot-6 swingman Mikey McIntosh rounds out the frontcourt rotation, proving the Fusion with another swingman with range on his jump-shot.
The biggest concern about the Fusion is their lack of size. They should feature some of the best team chemistry on the circuit, but if they can't stop anyone around the basket, it could make for a long season. Harvell, Sears and Murr should be dynamic offensively, and both will be contenders to land on All-EYBL teams with each passing session. Head coach Robert Shannon has high expectations for this unit, and if they can find a solution to their lack of bulk on the interior, a Peach Jam bid will be well within reach for the debuting Fusion.