Sept. 10, 2009
By Doug Richards
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Sophomore guard Ben O'Donnell (Largo, Fla.) does not mind if UCF fans identify him as Mike's little brother. He is just happy to be a Knight.
The younger O'Donnell enrolled at UCF over the summer after spending two years at Florida State. He appeared in eight contests for the Seminoles in 2007-08, but did not play a year ago.
O'Donnell says that the year off was a mistake. His love of the game helped bring him to UCF.
"I missed it terribly," O'Donnell said. "I love basketball. I had to keep playing it. My brother is over here telling me about the program. I love the school. I thought it was a great opportunity for me to come here and help out the team."
Like his younger brother, Mike O'Donnell began his career at an Atlantic Coast Conference school (NC State) before transferring to UCF. Mike started at point guard for three years for head coach Kirk Speraw. One of the top players in program history, Mike was a threat to score each time he had the ball. He finished his UCF career with 195 3-pointers, which currently ranks third in program history.
Ben will have a different role with the Knights.
"Right now, I am just trying to help out the guys in workouts and get everybody better," he said. "I am really trying to be a defensive threat in practice, so when it is game time, they are prepared."
At Florida State, O'Donnell had just one basket - a 3-pointer at North Carolina. For the Seminoles, his value came at practice, where he worked to make starting point guard Toney Douglas a better player. Douglas developed into an All-America selection at Florida State and was a first-round pick in the 2009 National Basketball Association Draft.
Playing with and against standouts like Douglas only helped O'Donnell improve his game.
"It made me a much more mature basketball player," O'Donnell said.
He is now hoping that his experience and maturity helps the Knights become a better team.
The Knights are slated to open the 2009-10 regular season on Nov. 13, hosting Massachusetts at the UCF Arena. Season tickets, which start at just $79, are currently available by calling (407) UCF-1000 or by visiting UCFAthletics.com.
For the latest news on the Knights, log on to www.UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit www.UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.
Notes: Former Knights Dexter Lyons and Roberto Morentin will again be playing professionally in Spain. Lyons has signed a deal with Alcazar and Morentin will suit up for Melilla. The pair played under Kirk Speraw from 2002-04 and helped the Knights earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament as seniors.