Next up in our initial Off-season Updates, we are bidding farewell to the seniors from this past season. Due to circumstances surrounding Covid, there was no senior night at Alico but the following individuals have each left their mark on the university in some way.
Rainwater’s career as an Eagle spanned just 2 seasons. He joined the team after playing his first 2 years on the JUCO level. Before you even saw him with a basketball in his hands, Justus was already known for a few things. For one, he’ll always be a 1st team All-Name guy. In addition to that, Rainwater has a visibly athletic physique that boasts a ton of strength. Once people got to see the man in action, it was clear almost immediately that he would provide some highlight-reel dunks. Sure enough, Rainwater’s legacy at FGCU is undoubtedly tied to some spectacular jams. Additionally, Justus played stout defense against some of the better bigs in the conference. Over his 2 years with the team Rainwater averaged about 5 points and 4 rebounds per game, while being one of the more efficient shooters with a 62% field goal percentage. At this moment, Justus’ basketball future is up in the air. He has entered his name into the transfer portal to see what kind of bites he can get as a Grad Transfer. Beyond that, not much is known. We wish the best to a hardworking, committed, friend of the pod.
Savage Sam Gagliardi’s career with FGCU was another one filled with highs and lows. He joined the team after 2 seasons of JUCO basketball. In his first season with the team, he showed a fiery streak and a lot of tenacity and his points came in bunches. Sam was a part-time starter that year and had some big-time moments. Above all of his moments with the team, there are 2 that will be most remembered by fans. One of those occasions saw Gagliardi lighting up Lipscomb from 3. The other moment featured him hustling and fighting for a loose ball and putting his body on the line for the team, leading to a famed image of a bloody Sam. Like Rainwater, he has entered his name into the transfer portal to gauge interest and explore his basketball options as a graduate. We wish the best for him wherever he ends up.
Jalen Warren became a big part of the team for the entirety of his 2 years with the squad. He, like the previously mentioned players, joined the team after 2 years of JUCO ball. Immediately, Warren took over point guard duties for a team that lacked a true point guard the prior season. He had several key moments and showed an affinity for the spotlight as he often came through in late-game situations. Jalen dazzled us with an ESPN top play on a game-winning floater during his first year. This past season, Warren increased his scoring output to 12 points per game, with a season high of 28 against North Alabama. Jalen will be remembered by Screecher Report for his infectious energy on the court, his sneaky body control in the paint, and of course that deadly floater of his. Warren has also entered his name into the transfer portal to test the waters. Jalen will no doubt have the opportunity to play professionally overseas should that be his goal. He was truly a fun and insightful player to cover.
Lastly, Eli Abaev joined FGCU for just 1 season as a grad transfer from Austin Peay. Eli immediately brought vocal leadership, experience, and toughness to the front court for the Eagles. He averaged 8 points and 8 rebounds at Austin Peay and big things were expected of him in the ASUN. Unfortunately, a shortened off-season and the Covid shutdowns didn’t do him or the team any favors as far as getting in a rhythm. Still, Abaev solidified the small-ball lineup as the starting “5” with an aptitude for rebounding. He finished the year averaging 7 points and 7 rebounds to go along with 2 double-doubles, a 14 rebound performance, and a 17 point performance. We were fortunate to chat with Eli and ask him about his time at the school.
“Looking back at my time at FGCU, it will always be a home. I wish I could have been there longer. Covid sucks and we did our best to avoid it and stay on the floor as much as possible. My favorite memory was probably beating Miami on Coach Joey [Cantens]’s birthday.”Eli Abaev
As a grad transfer, Abaev’s days of college basketball are over but he was a positive, passionate presence at FGCU. Eli will now look to play overseas to continue his basketball career.
To all the seniors, we say thank you and farewell!
Our next Off-season Update will be titled “Transfer Season & Roster Breakdown” and we will talk about the current state of the roster heading further into this off-season.