ORLANDO, Fla. — After losing its top three scorers, the UCF men’s basketball team emphasized that it will be fine without players such as Isaiah Sykes, Calvin Newell and Tristan Spurlock this upcoming season.
The Knights’ primary focus? To play as a balanced team.
“Losing scorers doesn’t really matter; we have scorers no matter what,” sophomore guard Brandon Goodwin said. “We’re actually a team this year: we pass and play where everyone gets the ball. It’s like a puzzle; everyone fits in where they are supposed to fit in.”
UCF head coach Donnie Jones echoed upon the new-look Knights’ unselfishness.
“I do like our team, I like how we’re coming along, shaping up.” Jones said. “I think this is going to be an exciting team to watch this year. They are a very unselfish group, really everyone seems to play together, early on that’s the biggest thing we try to emphasize and guys will start accepting their roles here as we get closer to the season.”
The Knights underlined their new culture during media day:
“The new culture is hard work, team, we don’t want to be very selfish guys and most importantly we want to have a winning culture and we want to do it the right way,” freshman guard B.J. Taylor said.
Taylor, an Orlando native, has a chance to flaunt his skills in front of his home crowd. The Boone High School graduate was one of 20 across the nation named to Parade All-America team.
“It’s awesome being here at UCF, being from Boone 20 minutes away, it’s awesome,” Taylor said. “I love being here in Orlando, I love the city and I’m just excited to play in front of all the fans.
Coach Jones had a few words to share about Taylor along with freshman guard Adonys Henriquez who was ranked the 17th best wing in the country by ESPN and who is also from the Orlando area.
“B.J. Taylor and Adonys both coming in really highly recruited; both those guys had great senior years being from this area means something for them to come here and play for UCF,” Jones said. “They will have lots of fans and family sitting in the stands, so that’s something I love. Both of those guys have been really good this summer and this fall, they are really trying to find their way to fit in on this team and they are going to bring great basketball experience even though they’re freshman.”
Returning for his fourth and final season at UCF, senior forward Kasey Wilson believes he can lead this team in a distinctive way.
“I’m not a very loud person, I’ve just never been,” Wilson said.
“I can lead in other ways, I was talking to Coach Finny about that and he was telling me about different ways I can lead other than just having to be a vocal guy all the time,” Wilson said.
Wilson also listed his improvements over the summer.
“Ballhandling, being under pressure from a smaller guard getting up in me and just being more comfortable with the ball,” Wilson said. “Being more consistent with shooting and my defense. Coach Jones has really talked to me about defense and how to keep me on the floor. If I can do anything to stay on the floor, I will.”