FLORENCE — DeAndre Hersey doesn’t think of himself as a center.
The North Alabama senior has the frame and skills to play either forward spot, which he has done in the past.
But when Hersey transferred to UNA from South Alabama for his senior season he quickly found himself hunkered down in the post. It’s a role he has accepted and a role in which he is now thriving.
“I played mostly the four spot at South Alabama, but moved to the three spot my last year there,” Hersey said. “The four spot is probably my best position, but I’ll play wherever the team needs me. I didn’t know I would be playing center here, but I don’t mind it.”
The 6-foot-7 Hersey has shown the ability to dominate near the basket. He is coming off a career-best 26-point performance in last Saturday’s 69-53 victory at Delta State. He is averaging 13.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game entering today’s game against Union.
UNA (10-2) has not had a consistent inside scoring threat in several years, and coach Bobby Champagne said Hersey definitely fit a need.
“We needed some size inside and I knew about DeAndre from my South Alabama connections,” Champagne said. “His rebounding and shot blocking are what really intrigued us, although he obviously can score inside. He gives us a real presence inside.”
A native of Reform, Hersey was a standout at Pickens County High School. His best friend and former Pickens County teammate is Alabama tight end Michael Williams.
Hersey signed with South Alabama out of high school and redshirted his first year. He had some nice moments during the next three seasons, including scoring on a putback with 1.8 seconds remaining to give the Jaguars at 67-66 upset of Florida during the 2009-10 season.
After spending four years at South Alabama and graduating with a degree in interdisciplinary studies, Hersey decided it was time to move on.
“I just feel like I wasn’t getting the minutes I deserved,” Hersey said. “Coach Champagne played at South Alabama so he understood my situation. I came to visit UNA and could see that it was a nice school and good environment in which to play.”
Hersey is one of six new Lions this season. He said the new players have meshed well with the veterans, which has been the key UNA’s fast start.
“I give credit to our captains, Wes Long and K.J. (Keynan Jackson).” Hersey said. “They really brought us together as a team. When we’re all focused and playing together we are capable of beating anyone.”
Staying focused is a key for Hersey. As well as he has played, Champagne wants him to be more consistent.
In the past three games, Hersey scored 20 points against Georgia Southwestern and 26 against Delta State. In between those two games, however, he scored just two points in a loss at Christian Brothers.
“DeAndre is pretty laid back, but when he plays aggressively he can do a lot of good things,” Champagne said. “We need him to come out focused every night.”
Hersey is enjoying his new role. While counted on to score inside, he said he doesn’t worry about how many points he gets each night.
“My goal is to become a better teammate every day,” he said. “The great thing about this team is we have a bunch of guys that are capable of scoring 20 points on any given night. If my shot is not falling I know somebody else will step up.”
Jeff McIntyre can be reached at 256-740-5737 or jeff.mcintyre@TimesDaily.com.