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UAB loses 4 players, 2 to academics

BIRMINGHAM – UAB coach Mike Davis can see his team going one of two ways after the loss of four players left the Blazers with only six scholarship players and two walk-ons.

“Some step up and accept the challenge,” Davis said. “Some of them step back and say, ‘Well, we don’t have a chance.’ We’ll have to see.”

The Blazers (5-3) suffered a body blow on Tuesday with the loss of Terrence Roderick and Armon Bassett, who decided to leave school, and Jeremy Mayfield and Ed Berrios, who were ruled ineligible because of academic issues.

A university release did not say why Roderick and Bassett chose to leave the team but stated Mayfield and Berrios were no longer eligible because “they do not meet NCAA requirements for participation at this time.”

Roderick arrived at UAB in August of 2007 but did not qualify to play last season. He played in all eight games for the Blazers this fall, averaging 5.6 points and 5.5 rebounds in 21 minutes per game.

Mayfield played in every game in 2006-07 and the final 22 games last season. He was ineligible the past two fall semesters. Berrios, one of six seniors on the roster, is a former junior college transfer who played 12.5 minutes per game this season in relief of starting point guard Aaron Johnson.

It was unclear whether Bassett, who came to UAB from Indiana, will move to a school closer to home in Indiana or try to begin a pro career. He was sitting out this season but was expected to be a key part of next year’s team.

UAB was already playing with a thin roster. The Blazers are allowed only 11 of 13 maximum scholarships during the 2008-09 season because of NCAA academic progress penalties. Two of those players — Bassett and Elijah Millsap — were sitting out after transferring from other four-year schools.

Mayfield and Mike Davis Jr., a walk-on and the son of the coach, were also sitting out because they were academically ineligible.

UAB’s six scholarship players are Robert Vaden, Paul Delaney III, Lawrence Kinnard, Aaron Johnson, Howard Crawford and Channing Toney. Davis Jr. and Cameron Moore are the walk-ons.

Davis Jr. practiced for the first time Monday, but easing him into the lineup may not be an option.

“You can’t ease anybody in when you only have six or seven people,” said the Blazers’ coach.