Union University looks to follow up on an outstanding regular season in which the Bulldogs peaked at No. 1 in the NAIA for the first time in school history. Included in last season’s 28-6 record, Union was 9-4 versus teams ranked in the final NAIA poll, and were the only team to beat No. 1 Mountain State during the regular season (twice).
This season, Union is eyeing their 9th NAIA national tournament appearance in the past 10 seasons (highest finish was a quarterfinal appearance in 1999). The Bulldogs lost two of their top three scorers from last year (Kinley Sellers-14.2 and Corey Burket-12.6), however, have added some new and very talented players. NCAA DI transfer Brian Lake and JUCO transfer Tony Brown join the team along with others. Union has a very experienced and talented senior class made up of five players who each started at some point during last season. Three of the five seniors, Ben Frederick, Marcus Cooper, and Pierry Valmera, are four-year players.
Five seniors make up one of the most talented classes in recent history for Union. Post players Ben Frederick and Pierry Valmera have each been NAIA All-Americans in different seasons during their career. Marcus Cooper, a very explosive guard has been a starter for the majority of this career. Deywane Lee and Mack Bealim each joined Union for their junior seasons, but each made great contributions to the teams success in 2005-06. All five of these players started at some point during last season and each will be called on to lead this team deep into the NAIA postseason.
Newcomer Ryan Merriman, a transfer from Chattanooga State Community College, is the lone junior on this years team. Merriman’s ability to shoot the ball will make him a valuable player on this team.
The sophomore class is made up of three players, two of which are newcomers to the Bulldog program. The lone sophomore returner, Alan North of Jackson, has continued to improve and with his confidence in making big shots on the rise, he will be a valuable player off the bench. The two sophomore transfers are two of the most talented transfer player in quite some time. Brian Lake, of Bolivar, joined Union this season after spending the past two years at Middle Tennessee State University. Tony Brown transferred to Union from Kirtland Community College after being named a JUCO All-American as a freshman.
Two freshman complete the 2006-07 roster for Union. Tacuma Alexander joins Union from Harding Academy and brings a great deal of athletic ability to the team. He will get his opportunity to contribute early in his career for the Bulldogs. Kennedy Okello joins Union from Mombasa, Kenya and will redshirt this season as he continues to learn and add strength for his upcoming Union career.
This Union team has definitely reloaded to make a run at their third straight TranSouth Championship and another national tournament appearance. This senior class has been to the national tournament in each of their three seasons with Union. The experience is there and the time is now for this very talented Union team.