UCF point guard B.J. Taylor is excited to see what they can do with a full roster.
In year one under Johnny Dawkins, UCF exceeded all expectations with a top-four finish in the American and a deep run in the NIT advancing all the way to the semifinals at New York's Madison Square Garden.
And that was with only seven scholarship players, two of whom missed key stretches during the season. That includes Taylor, who missed seven games with a broken thumb.
With the bulk of starters returning, plus an influx of transfers who sat out last season, optimism is high the Knights can break through with an NCAA Tournament bid in 2017-18.
Headlining the returners is Taylor, who led UCF with 17.4 points per game, and center Tacko Fall, the American's Defensive Player of the Year. Fall tested the NBA Draft waters and attended several workouts before deciding to return for his junior season. A.J. Davis, who will be the only senior on scholarship this upcoming season, provides versatility with the ability to play any position and is one of the team's strongest defenders.
"I'm extremely excited about next year with the guys we have coming back and the guys who were sitting out last year," Taylor said recently. "A.J. Davis is going to be better next year. Chad Brown's improvement from his freshman to sophomore season was huge. A lot of people talk about Tacko's improvement and that was awesome, but Chad made just as much improvement when you look at where he was."
Brown, who saw minimal action as a freshman, typically manned the front court when Fall had to come out of the game. He averaged 4.3 points and 3.5 rebounds per game and blocked 26 shots, second only to Fall.
UCF does lose sharpshooter Matt Williams, one-year graduate transfer Nick Banyard and role player Tanksley Efianayi to graduation, but more than makes up for it with the addition of several players who sat out last season:
-Point guard Terrell Allen, a sophomore who transferred from Drexel.
-Guard Ceasar DeJesus, a redshirt freshman who sat out last season due to academics.
-Guard Dayon Griffin, a junior who transferred from Louisiana Tech.
-Power forward Rokas Ulvydas, a 6-11 sophomore transfer from Texas Tech.
-Wing Aubrey Dawkins, a junior transfer from Michigan.
-Guard Chance McSpadden, a sophomore who missed the entire 2016-17 season recovering from a knee injury.