UCF big men Josh Crittle and Dwight McCombs dedicated their offseason to getting into better shape. They both went through vigorous summer workouts, and in the process, the two developed a strong bond.

Head coach Donnie Jones will be looking at both of them to play the center position for UCF this season, and it’s been noticeable this season that their offseason workouts were worthwhile.

“Josh Crittle will probably be one of our bigger guys. He’s lost 40 pounds since last year, and Dwight McCombs has lost 20 pounds since last year,” Jones said earlier this season. “So those guys are stronger, more athletic and they are moving better. Those guys will probably play what we would call the center spot for us.”

Senior forward Dwight McCombs, who now weighs in at 235, is coming off a year in which he shared starts at the center position with Tom Herzog. McCombs started 19 games and averaged 12 minutes per game, while Herzog started 14 games and averaged 16 minutes.

McCombs has also been working on conditioning, so that he can stay on the floor longer without getting tired.

“Me and [Crittle] pretty much did the same thing,” McCombs said. “I just changed my diet. And by me changing my diet, it really helped me out…I dropped 15 or 20 pounds by working with our strength and conditioning coach. I’m running the floor better and feeling lighter, I think it will help me make more of an impact.”

Redshirt junior Josh Crittle had to sit out all of last season after transferring from the University of Oregon, where he averaged 2.9 points per game and 2.5 rebounds in 51 contests.

When he first got to UCF, Crittle weighed as much as 300. After a tough couple of months in the offseason, he has trimmed down to about 260.

Crittle’s transformation began during last season in December.

“I had a conversation with coach Jones and the rest of the coaching staff and, from that point on, I was like ‘I’ve got to change,’” said Crittle. “That’s when I really started focusing on what I ate and cut out eating after 9:30, and just do extra work after practice. I would either ride the bike, get on the treadmill or get some extra conditioning in.”

Crittle and McCombs both grew up in Chicago and played against each other in high school. They knew each other back then, but have grown closer by training together at UCF. They have developed a close friendship over the past few months and are now roommates.

“To be honest, Dwight McCombs has become my best friend in the last couple of months,” said Crittle. “We’ve been roommates on the road, and we live together now. We battle every day. We compete, and we push each other. I mean, we are going to complement each other very well. It’s like a one-two punch to me.”

McCombs and Crittle have been complementing each other well so far this season. Crittle starts for the Knights and gives them solid offense, while McCombs comes off the bench to replace him and brings in a big body to play solid defense.

“Both of us can shoot mid-range shots, and we can both bang in the post,” said McCombs. “So we can play off of each other. High-low all day. There’s a lot of big things coming from both of us.”

Through seven games this season, it looks like McCombs has established his role as a tough, aggressive player who will do whatever he can do help the team win. He hasn’t been productive in the box score, but McCombs does a lot of things to help the team like take charges, and play physical defense.

He scored a season-high eight points against St. Thomas University and also blocked two shots.

Crittle has only seen action in five games this season for the Knights due to his team suspension, but he is off to a promising start nonetheless. In his first game as a Knight, which was against High Point, he scored 10 points and grabbed five boards in just 14 minutes.

He has shown that he can give the team good minutes, and that he has a soft touch around the basket. The main concern with Crittle is being too physical. For the past three games, he has played limited minutes due to foul trouble. Through five games, Crittle is averaging 4.6 points and four rebounds per game.

They have been splitting minutes, with each big man averaging 15 minutes a contest.

Don’t expect to see both McCombs and Crittle on the court together because they are the Knights primary big men, and one has to stay out of foul trouble. They might play alongside each other for a few minutes each game, especially if the team needs physicality and rebounds, or if Keith Clanton gets in foul trouble.

The Knights will utilize this powerful big-man duo as the season progresses and the team gets into the bulk of their schedule.