Oct. 13, 2009
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The NCAA has approved the graduate transfer waivers for UAB seniors George Drake and Kenneth Cooper, it was announced on Tuesday. Therefore, both players are now immediately eligible to suit up for the Blazers and use their final year of competition in the 2009-10 season.
"This is great news," UAB head coach Mike Davis said. "You are talking about two fifth-year seniors with over 170 college games played between them. They will give us leadership, depth and maturity. We are very excited to have them cleared to play with us this season."
Both Drake and Cooper have already received undergraduate degrees from their previous university (Drake from Vanderbilt University and Cooper from Louisiana Tech University) and both are currently enrolled in graduate school at UAB.
Drake, a 6-4, 215-pound guard, will come to UAB after playing 96 career games at Vanderbilt. Drake averaged 3.3 points and 1.7 rebounds in an average of 11.7 minutes per contest during his three seasons with the Commodores. The Calera, Ala. native had his best season a year ago as he played in 30 contests, making four starts, and averaged 5.5 ppg and 2.7 rpg a game in 17.4 minutes per contest. Drake would go on to collect seven double-figure scoring contests last year, highlighted by scoring a career-high 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor against South Carolina (1/28).
At 6-10, 260-pounds, Cooper gives UAB a true center for the first time in recent memory. Cooper began his career by playing two seasons at Oklahoma State (2005-07). While with the Cowboys, Cooper played in 67 contests, making 28 starts. He averaged 13.1 minutes per contest during his two-year stint, while also contributing with 3.4 points and 2.5 rebounds a game.
Following his sophomore season, the Monroe, La. native decided to play closer to his hometown and transferred to Louisiana Tech, to play under former UAB assistant coach Kerry Rupp. After sitting out the 2007-08 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Cooper made an immediate impact with the Bulldogs. In his 15 games played, Cooper made 14 starts and averaged 11.7 points and 7.1 rebounds per contest. He recorded three double-doubles on the season, highlighted by a 22-point, 11-rebound effort against Grambling State (11/18). During his three-year playing career, Cooper has played in 82 contest and made 42 starts.
With the addition of Drake and Cooper, the Blazers' roster stands at 11 scholarship players heading into the 2009-10 campaign. The news comes at a good time, as UAB will hold its first official full practice of the season on Friday night.
Both players have already been working out with the team during individual practices, which makes Davis feel they are ready to step in and contribute immediately.
"Both George and Kenny have been practicing with the team, lifting with the team and conditioning with the team," Davis said. "I think they are both very excited to get this news and now they can go forward without having this issue hanging over their heads. We are very excited to get the season started."