After the success of last season, earning a 12th seed in the 2022 NCAA Tournament behind one of the nation’s highest scorers in Jordan “Jelly” Walker, UAB Head coach Andy Kennedy took to the transfer portal.
With the departure of two former all-conference players in Quan Jackson and Michael Ertel, a small rebuild saw the Blazers acquire LSU transfer Eric Gaines, former Mississippi State forward Javian Davis, and a duo of brothers from ETSU in Ledarrius and Tyron Brewer.
With a squad now constructed around Walker; who’s having yet another Conference Player of the Year-type season, UAB has found the spark once again and sit 12-3 while starting conference play at 3-1.
Of course Walker has continued to lead averaging the most PPG in the country at 24.9 with an additional 2.6 RPG and 4.5 APG, while also shooting a career high on 3-pointers at 40% and has even improved his overall shooting to a career best 42%
However, one piece in particular that Walker can attribute his career-year to is the recruitment of Gaines who’s the team’s second high scorer averaging 11.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 4.7 APG and is Walker’s primary backcourt mate.
Gaines does a solid job of running the offense himself when necessary but is also an excellent shooter, averaging 43% from the field and a career-best 42% from three.
Furthermore, Davis’ addition has added a lot of SEC experience with the Mississippi native having spent time at both Alabama and Mississippi State. Since arriving in Birmingham, Davis has been a crucial sixth man for the Blazers averaging 7.5 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 1.1 APG in his first 15 appearances at UAB.
Lastly have been the Brewer Brothers transferring from East Tennessee State with the 6-foot-9 Tyron slowly working his way into a starting role while the 6-foot-5 Ledarrius was high impact for the Blazers prior to an injury in December.
With Ledarrius back on the court following UAB’s recent matchup with Florida Atlantic, the brothers will be key to the success that Andy Kennedy’s program can find within a strong Conference USA.
Despite winning out in last season’s conference tournament, the Blazers will be eyeing the Conference USA regular season crown this year. Behind a career-year from Walker and his new cast of transfer teammates, UAB has a real shot to make back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances.