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Preview: 2014-2015 UCF Men’s Basketball
Nov 4, 2014
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It’s the second year of a new era for UCF men’s’ basketball in the American Athletic Conference under head coach Donnie Jones. Last year was a difficult one, assimilating to one of the most challenging basketball conferences – which included the likes of UConn (Last year’s NCAA champion), Cincinnati, SMU, and Memphis. Louisville is gone, however, this is still a top heavy conference where you are a contender or one of the rest. This will be the first year for Tulsa, Tulane, and ECU playing hoops in the American, programs which are not known to be consistent winners in college basketball. The question is: Where will UCF fall in the mix this season?

Chances are, finishing in the top echelon of the conference is very unlikely to happen. UCF loses their top scorer, rebounder, and assist-man in Isiah Sykes (Who was pretty much the entire team last year). They also lose starters Tristian Spurlock and Calvin Newell, who were also large contributors last season. The 2014-2015 UCF team is going to be young, new, and it will be very interesting to see how the chemistry of the team unfolds throughout the season. While UCF has pretty much no chance to finish top 5 in the conference, they could still battle to land in the middle of the American given the new and less competitive former Conference USA teams joining.

Donnie Jones is entering his fifth year as head coach for UCF. His UCF career got off to a promising start, beating both Florida and UConn while leading UCF to the NIT tournament one year. Nevertheless, UCF found itself mired in an NCAA investigation over illegal recruiting and were hit with scholarship reductions. These have seriously hurt Jones’ ability to recruit a winning team, but thankfully for UCF fans these sanctions are done as of next year. UCF is already putting together a top 25 class for the ’15-’16 season once commits Tacko Fall, Chad Brown, Tanksley Efianayi, and Chance McSpadden sign on the dotted line during the early signing period this month. UCF will also have the services of Tennessee transfer Shaheed (AJ) Davis for 2015-2016. Jones has also managed to land two highly regarded guards for this season, newcomers BJ Taylor and Adonys Henriquez.

The big questions for this upcoming season for UCF will be: can Taylor and Henriquez positively contribute right away? If they can, UCF does have a very, very easy nonconference schedule prior to a more difficult schedule in the American, and this new team may be able to string together some wins to build confidence. Will Justin McBride, a behemoth in the paint who has improved his conditioning and weight, become a major contributor? One other major question will be can the team chemistry improve given less reliance on one player to carry the entire team? Last season Sykes also averaged 3.7 turnovers per game. This season is looking like a difficult bridge year, but 2015-2016 UCF should have a new core that will be able to compete in the upper segment of the American. Patience will be key.

Impact Returnees

Senior Power Forward Kasey Wilson – A strong rebounder and can catch fire from outside, how much has he improved defensively? He will need to show senior poise and leadership.

Junior Guard Matt Williams – A 3 point specialist who needs to do more, can he become a multidimensional player?

Sophomore Guard Brandon Goodwin – Didn’t get a ton of minutes last season, but he has burst and speed. Will he get more minutes this season and outplay the incoming freshman?

Junior Forward Stephon Blair – He should get big minutes this season. Raw athlete who has shown to be a talented rim protector. Has his offensive game improved over the offseason? Knight’s fans hope so.

Sophomore Forward Justin McBride – At 6’9, 255 (Probably weighed more than that last season) He had an injury set back his conditioning last year. He has been losing weight and has shown promise offensively. If he is able to put up major minutes, he should be a huge contributor this season.

Junior Guard Daiquan Walker – The Philadelphia native has shown some promise last season, with a decent perimeter game and has the speed necessary to play in the American. Will he be the starting point guard this season?

Other Returnees

Senior Guard Myles Davis, Junior Forward Dylan Karell

Graduated or Gone

Isiah Sykes (Graduated), Tristian Spurlock (Graduated), Calvin Newell (Graduated), Steven Haney (Transferred), Isaac Lang (Graduated), and Eugene McCrory (Transferred).

Impact Newcomers

PG BJ Taylor: In high school Taylor was a scoring machine (bringing back memories for another player who’s last name was Taylor for UCF basketball), and voted #2 for the top high school basketball player in Florida last season. His recruitment was quiet and was solid with the Knights for a long time. He could join the starting rotation quickly depending on the development of Goodwin and Walker.

SG Adonys Henriquez: Highly recruited and previously pledged to the Miami Hurricanes, he could also see significant minutes. How quickly can he develop? The Knights will be leaning on him and Taylor to produce offensively right away.

Other Newcomers

Shaheed (AJ) Davis, Djordjije Mumin, and Marshall Holmes

Projected Record

15-16

Projected Finish in American

8th (Out of 11)

American Projected Standings

  1. Uconn
  2. Memphis
  3. SMU
  4. Cincinnati
  5. Temple
  6. Tulsa
  7. Houston
  8. UCF
  9. USF
  10. Tulane
  11. ECU

About author

Profile photo of Daniel Glass

Daniel Glass

I currently work for my family business in New Jersey and attended UCF from 2007-2011. I graduated with a degree in general business and when not working I am watching college football or the NFL. I am not an experienced writer, but have always been curious to test the turbulent waters of writing about my favorite team. Follow me on twitter @Dgyn14.

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