Sykes has big game as UCF improves to 3-0 in C-USA.
Shawn Finney, who has five years of experience as a Division I head coach, joined Donnie Jones' staff at UCF as the associate head coach in April 2010. Finney has helped UCF achieve immediate success as the Knights have enjoyed plenty of memorable moments during his five campaigns in Orlando.
UCF achieved immediate success in 2010-11 with the new coaching staff, as the Knights entered the national rankings for the first time in program history. UCF spent four total weeks in the rankings, including three weeks with a spot in both national polls. Finney helped a pair of UCF players earn individual honors from Conference USA at the conclusion of the regular season. Marcus Jordan was an All-C-USA Second Team selection, and Keith Clanton was named to the all-league third team.
In 2011-12, UCF went 22-11 and achieved many impressive firsts, including the program's first trip to the postseason National Invitation Tournament. The Knights also made their inaugural appearance in the C-USA Championship semifinals, defeated league foes Memphis and UAB for the first time and defeated a top-5 ranked squad - No. 4 UConn - for the first time. The victory over UConn, which came at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, snapped the defending national champions' 16-game winning streak. During the campaign, Finney helped Clanton become just the second Knight to garner All-C-USA First Team honors since the program joined the league in 2005.
The Knights recorded another 20-win campaign in 2012-13. The squad went 20-11 overall and registered a pair of victories over top-50 RPI squads in Belmont and Southern Miss. The Knights were led by Isaiah Sykes, who paced the country with two triple-doubles and garnered All-C-USA First Team honors and a spot on the league's all-defensive team. Clanton also picked up league accolades with a spot on the All-C-USA Second Team. Finney helped the forward finish his career as UCF's all-time leader in rebounds, blocks, games played and starts. Both Sykes and Clanton received NABC All-District 11 First Team honors, marking the first time in program history that two Knights were named to the all-district squad.
With Finney on staff, the Knights joined the new American Athletic Conference for the 2013-14 season and have taken on some of the most prestigious programs in college basketball over the last two years. The conference has had two of the last three national champions in Louisville (2013) and Connecticut (2014). With every conference game televised on either the ESPN or CBS family of networks, the Knights have enjoyed unprecedented national exposure while facing teams rich in basketball history in UConn, Cincinnati, Memphis and Temple. In 2013-14 Sykes earned All-AAC Second Team and All-Tournament Team honors. Last season a pair of freshmen in B.J. Taylor and Adonys Henriquez were named to the league's All-Rookie Team.
Finney, who was the head coach at Tulane from 2000-05, helped Jones rebuild the program at Marshall before coming to UCF. The Mullens, W.Va., native helped the Thundering Herd to one of the top seasons in school history in 2009-10. Marshall went 24-10, including a program-best 11-5 mark in C-USA, and advanced to the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. The appearance was the first trip to the postseason in 22 years for the school.
Marshall attracted several highly-touted recruits during Finney's tenure, including Hassan Whiteside, who led the country in blocks in 2009-10. He swatted 182 shots, the fourth-most in NCAA single-season history. Whiteside was named both the C-USA Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year, and garnered freshman All-America second team honors from The Sporting News. The post player was selected by Sacramento with the 33rd overall pick in the 2010 National Basketball Association Draft.
During Finney's time leading the Tulane program, every student-athlete he recruited graduated. He recruited and coached 2004-05 C-USA All-Freshman Team selection Taylor Rochestie. During the 2001-02 campaign, Finney led the Green Wave to big wins over Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech. The following year, Tulane again defeated an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent when it knocked off the Yellow Jackets.
Before accepting the job at Tulane, Finney was an assistant coach for Tubby Smith at Tulsa (1991-95), Georgia (1995-97) and Kentucky (1997-00). In all three of his campaigns at Kentucky, Finney helped the Wildcats advance to the NCAA Tournament, highlighted by the national title in 1998. The Wildcats went 35-4 that season.
Finney mentored numerous future NBA players while at Kentucky, including Tayshaun Prince, Jammal Magloire, Nazr Mohammed and Scott Padgett.
During his two seasons at Georgia, the Bulldogs went a combined 45-19 and made two appearances in the NCAA Tournament. While working for Smith at Tulsa, Finney helped the Golden Hurricane claim Missouri Valley Conference titles and spots in the NCAA Tournament on two occasions. Tulsa advanced to the Sweet 16 during both trips to the Big Dance.
After concluding his tenure at Tulane, Finney worked as a television analyst for ESPN and then served as the director of basketball operations at Kentucky in 2005-06.
Finney started his coaching career at Garrett Community College in Maryland in 1985, before moving to Pikeville College in Kentucky for a year. From 1987-90, Finney served as an assistant at Randolph-Macon in Virginia. He graduated from Fairmont State in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in business administration and earned his master's degree in sports management from Tulsa in 1992.