VUU rebuilding men's team in big way

Fred Jeter | 12/20/2019, 6 a.m.
Virginia Union University basketball Coach Jay Butler needed to re-stock his roster this season, and it seems he aced the ...

Virginia Union University basketball Coach Jay Butler needed to re-stock his roster this season, and it seems he aced the assignment.

The Panthers, now 7-4, have won five straight games and seven of the last eight with a smooth blend of returnees and talented newcomers.

The VUU veteran cast features senior guard Terrell Leach, a leading scorer nine times, and junior forwards Jordan Peebles and Raemaad Wright.

But help was needed, and help arrived.

Here’s a look at some first-year Panthers:

Tyriek Railey (6-foot junior from Jacksonville, Fla.): Transferred to VUU from Little Priest Tribal College in Winnebago, Neb.; averaging 7 points. “He can score, shoot the three,” Coach Butler said, “and if you see him in warm-ups, he can do all kinds of highlight dunks.”

Keshon Tabb (6-foot sophomore from Henrico’s Hermitage High School): “He’s a combo guard trying to balance between scoring and running the team,” Coach Butler said. He connected on five 3-pointers and scored 15 points against Fayetteville State University.

Charles Tart III (6-foot-4 freshman from Henrico’s Varina High School): “He is a great get for us,” Coach Butler said. “He plays above the rim; one of our top defenders,” averaging 5 points. He was on the 2018 Varina High School state championship team.

Dedric Byrd (6-foot-7 senior from Fuquay, N.C.): Averaging 4 points. He previously played at Winston-Salem State University and the University of Mount Olive in North Carolina. “He can stretch the floor, shoot the three,” Coach Butler said.

Bilal Abdur-Rahim (6-foot-6 junior from Marietta, Ga.): Cur- rently injured, he was a transfer from Division I The University of Southern Mississippi. He is the brother of former NBA player Shareef Abdur-Rahim.

Shawn Sanders (6-foot-4 freshman from Virginia Beach): An extremely talented wing who earned All-State honors at Green Run High School. “He has big-time potential,” Coach Butler said.

Jaelin Gallimore (6-foot-10 freshman from Bridgeport, Conn.): Learning the ropes. Few Division II schools boast a richer big-man tradition than VUU. Coach Butler hopes Gal- limore is next in line.

After a staggering 0-3 start, the rebuilding Panthers have found their rhythm heading into 2020.

The Panthers will return from winter break to face CIAA opponent Shaw University on Jan. 4 at Barco-Stevens Hall on the VUU campus.