Aug. 20, 2012
UCF Athletics Social Media Directory
By Doug Richards
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Spirits were high Sunday when the UCF men's basketball team met to discuss the Knights' preparations for the 2012-13 campaign. With the start of classes this week, the team is focused on looking ahead, and the upcoming season is first on the horizon.
"We have a great group of young men in our program. They are working so hard and our chemistry is outstanding. We are all very excited about the season," UCF head coach Donnie Jones said.
Jones was pleased with his team's effort on the court, in the weight room and in the classroom over the summer, and he expects the hard work to continue as the upcoming season gets closer.
Led by Conference USA Player of the Year candidate Keith Clanton, the Knights will be looking to build on their recent growth, which included a 22-win campaign in 2011-12 and memorable victories over defending national champion UConn and Memphis.
Clanton averaged 14.5 points and 8.1 rebounds as a junior and worked hard over the summer to perfect his game. After making tremendous strides as a sophomore, Isaiah Sykes has joined Clanton in taking ownership of the program and providing leadership.
``We've seen some great growth from Keith and Isaiah and those guys have worked really hard over the summer. They have an edge about them to prove that we can do some great things here," Jones said.
UCF has several new faces this year, and the group of newcomers is led by Calvin Newell. Newell, who will be eligible after the first semester, is a dynamic guard with the ability to score from virtually anywhere on the court. He averaged 13.0 points last fall at Oklahoma. Incoming freshmen Staphon Blair, Dylan Karell, Daiquan Walker and Matt Williams join returners Tristan Spurlock, Kasey Wilson and Rod Days to form a solid core.
Spurlock, who averaged 7.2 points last season, had a strong summer which he capped with MVP honors in the famed Kenner League in Washington, D.C. Both Wilson and Days saw considerable action a year ago, and should be in store for more minutes in 2012-13.
This year, a regular-season Conference USA Championship in the program's final campaign in the league before joining the BIG EAST will be a focus for UCF. Jones has told the Knights that they have much to play for, and he knows that his squad will represent the university with great pride.
"We have a lot to play for. Our guys know that," Jones said. "We have the chance to win a C-USA regular season title. That is something that has never been done here and would be a great accomplishment."