2012-2013 Overall Rank: #74
Conference Rank: #3 Conference USA
UCF Team Page
Coach Donnie Jones almost did not make it to his third season at UCF. The Knights program was hit by a postseason ban that also saw Coach Jones lose all 21 of his wins from the 2010-2011 campaign. The postseason ban allowed any seniors to transfer without sitting out a year and the Knights did lose some players because of that. However, Keith Clanton opted to return for his senior season and that was a huge deal for the Knights. Clanton led the team with 14.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks as a junior and he could have gone just about anywhere. Instead, he will looking to lead UCF to a Conference USA title before the program heads to the Big East.
2011-12 Record: 22-11, 10-6
2011-12 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Donnie Jones
Coach Record: 22-11 at UCF, 22-11 overall
The Knights will be without any Jordan on the court, or the sidelines, this year. The loss of Marcus Jordan is not due to the NCAA sanctions, but it is an early departure. Jordan was second to only Clanton in scoring and was the Knights most prolific outside shooter last season. Jeff Jordan was never much of a scorer, but the former Fighting Illini always played solid defense. As with Jeff Jordan, UCF played part of last season without point guard A.J. Rompza. Rompza emerged as a better shooter last season, but was mostly a great distributor and defender. The frontcourt will have to do without the services of Josh Crittle, P.J. Gaynor and Dwight McCombs. Crittle started 25 games last season, averaging 4.7 points and 2.9 rebounds. Gaynor rarely made much of an impact offensively, but the 6-8 forward could stretch out the defense with his mid-range jumper. McCombs was yet another player who had a shortened 2011-2012 campaign, but he was an efficient big man when available. C.J. Reed never played for UCF, but he was going to be an important piece to the puzzle after transferring in from Bethune-Cookman. After sitting out last season, Reed took advantage of the ability to transfer without sitting out and is headed to Georgia Southern, where his father is an assistant coach.
UCF will have to rely on the newcomers to provide a little depth and a starting point guard. Calvin Newell, a transfer from Oklahoma, will assume that role once he is eligible in December. Newell can be a big time scorer, but first and foremost Coach Jones will need him to run the show. While Newell waits on the sidelines, freshman and fellow Philly product Daiquan Walker will assume the point guard duties. That will be tough for the Knights and Walker, but it will be a good thing in the long run. By the end of this season Newell will a fine point guard and Walker will have more experience than UCF needs him to have. Matt Williams will get a look off of the bench on the perimeter due to a lack of other options. Staphon Blair and Dylan Karell will add depth to the frontcourt. Blair is a physical player who can bang around in the paint and Karell is an athletic 6-11 freshman who just needs to add a little weight.
Who to Watch:
Clanton is not the only returning player for UCF. While Clanton leads the frontcourt, Isaiah Sykes will be the go-to-guy on the perimeter. The 6-5 junior averaged 12.3 points and 6.4 rebounds during the 2011-2012 campaign. His outside shooting ability is not ideal, but Sykes can do a ton of scoring by attacking the basket. Rod Days could step into a starting role opposite of Sykes on the wing. At 6-6, Days will give a lot of size to the Knights backcourt, but he is more of a transition wing than a shooter. If UCF starts Sykes and Days on the wing, there really is not a shooter in the backcourt. However, there is a shooter available in the frontcourt. Tristian Spurlock, a 6-8 junior, connected on 1.1 three-pointers per game last year after transferring in from Virginia. Spurlock took over half of his shots from long range and proved to be a nice offensive spark off of the bench during the 2011-2012 campaign. He will have to take that production into a starting role this year, but with Sykes, Days and Clanton on the floor, Spurlock can be the shooter while everybody else does a little extra work on the glass. Sophomore Kasey Wilson is also a forward who can do some shooting. At 6-7 and 225 pounds, Wilson can play either forward spot. Wilson really came on strong at the end of the season and found his shooting stroke.
Coach Jones has some talent to work with. If this team can find a shooter to replace Marcus Jordan, they should be in good shape. A steady point guard would not hurt either, but Newell should be fine in that role come January. Depth may be an issue, and will continue to be as UCF endures scholarship reductions in the coming years. Coach Jones has set the goal to leave Conference USA with a title. That is not an easy goal, but if UCF stays focused through some inevitable early lumps while breaking in a couple new point guards in November and again in January, this is a team that has the size and athleticism to compete with the likes of Memphis.
Projected Postseason Tournament: None
Projected Starting Five:
Daiquan Walker, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Isaiah Sykes, Junior, Guard, 12.3 points per game
Rod Days, Sophomore, Guard, 1.3 points per game
Tristan Spurlock, Junior, Forward, 7.2 points per game
Keith Clanton, Senior, Forward, 14.5 points per game
Madness 2013 NBA Draft Rankings:
#112 Keith Clanton