Not every highly touted athlete pans out in his or her’s preferred sport. In fact, you could argue most don’t. Many years ago, in attempt to market the idea that athletes could be evaluated, graded, and ranked, websites began to pop up touting their “experts” were able to make these judgments and their opinions were worthy of your subscriptions. Recruiting centered sites have since blown up and become an extremely popular and relied upon source. It’s big business these days.
Back in 2014, the state of Alabama had quite the basketball recruiting class landing four players on the EPSN Top 100. Even the 2016 Alabama class that many said was one of the best in decades only had two players on the list. In reality, the rankings from these sites are sort of a mixed bag of opinions and should be taken with a grain of salt. But, looking back at ESPN’s rankings in 2014 it appears they were right on.
The Alabama rankings of ESPN’s Top 100 in 2014.
#64 Williams Lee – UAB
#76 Justin Coleman – Alabama / Samford
#87 Isaac Haas – Purdue
#93 Riley Norris – Alabama
Of the four listed above, Lee is the only player to have won a NCAA tournament game in his first two seasons. Lee is also the only one of the four to land on an all-conference team or win a conference individual award. The Plantersville native made the C-USA All-Freshman team, C-USA Third Team, and was named C-USA Defensive Player of the year the previous two seasons.
Considering where the players are now, and their careers thus far, you really get a better appreciation for the story former UAB coach Jerod Haase told of the night Lee committed to the Blazers over the phone. Haase began to cry in shock as soon as the two ended their call. He knew he could be a program changer, and he has become just that.
It’s hard to quantify and chronicle exactly what all in the peripheral over the years has been impacted by Lee’s decision to come to UAB. To a certain degree, the success of the basketball program has helped keep the spotlight on the athletic program as a whole during the football programs transition. If nothing else, the wins on the court helped those who cared dearly for football and UAB athletics heal in a time of insecurity and confusion. Now that football is back and Lee has blossomed into a superstar on the Southside, it’s time to enjoy just how special he is.
Lee has had some really great moments the past two seasons. His clutch performance against Iowa St., his 8 blocks against MTSU in UAB’s triple overtime win in 2015, and his career high 28 points in an overtime win at ODU last season to name a few. As great as those moments were, they were just that — moments that came and went with “good enough” outings littered in between. Most were left wanting more.
Let’s take a look at Lee’s last four games.
Over the course of these four games Lee has accumulated 80 points, which blows away any 4-game stretch he’s had in the last two and a half seasons. During this impressive stretch Lee became UAB’s leader in points per game, rebounds per game, steals per game, and 3-point percentage. It appears that now, finally, William Lee has become the centerpiece of this team.
Ladies and gentlemen, William Lee has now officially become this team’s alpha, and it couldn’t have come soon enough. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the William Lee Era.