UAB (18-4, 8-1)
Florida International (11-11, 5-4)
TV: American Sports Network
Radio: David Crane, Blazer IMG Sports, 99.5
MIAMI, FL — Fourteen points, 12 rebounds, and 13 blocked shots. That was 6-foot-11 senior center Adrian Diaz’s stat line in a game against UAB in the “Sunshine State” last February. Diaz’s 13 blocks were the most in a game in the NCAA that season. To quote one of the NBA’s current best shot blockers, Miami Heat’s Hassan Whiteside, “ain’t nobody doing triple-doubles with blocks.”
Diaz started his career in 2011 at Kansas State University. Over his freshman and sophomore seasons, he tallied 15 total blocks in limited minutes. At the end of his sophomore year, Diaz opted to transfer to Florida International closer to his hometown of Hialeah, Fla. Because of the NCAA transfer rule, he was required to sit out the 2013-14 season. During this time he was able to have a much needed knee surgery and develop further in the weight room and on the hardwood.
The 2014-15 season proved to be a record breaking year for Diaz who is now referred to as the ‘Hialeah Hammer’. The Panther center broke FIU’s all-time single season block record of 60 last February, and this season broke the program’s career blocks record of 126 (currently at 171). Through February 1, 2016, Diaz leads the NCCA with 72 total blocks through 22 games. However, in his rear view mirror is none other than Birmingham’s emerging star shot blocker William ‘Haha’ Lee.
BIRMINGHAM, AL — One game, 26 blocks. Don’t believe me? Check out AHSAA’s records (LINK). During William Lee’s senior season in 2012-13 at Dallas County High School, rumors began circulating around Alabama that he was averaging 15 blocks per game. Though it’s never been verified, folks around Birmingham these days are becoming believers.
‘Haha’ Lee’s first game in the green and gold didn’t come until late November of his freshman year. Despite missing three games at the start of the season, Lee was still able to accumulate 51 blocks in 33 games. His best outing came in a triple overtime win at home against Middle Tennessee State when he swatted eight Blue Raider attempts.
The 2015-16 season has not been a sophomore slump for William Lee. The blossoming forward just recently broke into a double-digit scoring average (10.2) and has officially taken the thrown at #BlockinghamPalace. ‘Haha’ is averaging 3.1 blocks per game – just 0.2 of percentage behind NCAA leader and aforementioned Adrian Diaz. His 66 blocks through 21 games is also second only to the ‘Hialeah Hammer’. UAB’s all-time blocked shot record is owned by Alan Ogg who totaled 266 during his four years on the Southside (30, 16, 129, 91).
This Thursday will once again be a “Gold Rush Game” in which attending fans are encouraged to don gold attire. Before long, gold attire may be the royal standard in #BlockinghamPalace in honor of the sultan of swat, King ‘Haha’ Lee.