2007-08 UCF Men's Basketball Preview - The Small Forwards

GO KNIGHTS Jermaine Taylor is UCF's leading returning scorer from a year ago.
Jermaine Taylor is UCF's leading returning scorer from a year ago.

Oct. 3, 2007

ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - As the 2007-08 UCF men's basketball season approaches, www.UCFathletics.com will take a look at the Knights, position-by-position. UCF opens the regular-season campaign on Nov. 11 against Nevada in the first game at the new UCF Arena. Season tickets are currently available by calling 407-UCF-1000.

The Knights will play 16 regular-season games at the new 10,000-seat facility. One lucky season ticket holder will get to drive home from the new UCF Arena in a brand new Mazda CX-9, courtesy of Classic Mazda, the presenting sponsor of this year's season ticket drive. UCF basketball fans that purchase two season tickets for this year's inaugural schedule at the new UCF Arena will be entered into a drawing to win the Mazda CX-9.

The winner of the CX-9 will be selected and announced on Nov. 24 during the UCF-UTEP football game at Bright House Networks Stadium. The vehicle will be on display at all UCF football home games and at Classic Mazda, which is located on 2075 North Semoran Boulevard in Orlando.

Today, www.UCFathletics.com will take a look at the squad's small forwards: junior Jermaine Taylor (Tavares, Fla./Tavares) and freshman Cordell Pope (Birmingham, Ala./Parker).

Josh Peppers was the Knights' top offensive player a year ago, averaging 14.3 points. Now that Peppers is gone, a new starter must emerge at the position and attempt to replace his offensive output.

Jermaine Taylor is the most likely candidate to win the starting job. He was UCF's second-leading scorer in 2006-07, averaging 12.7 points. Taylor came off the bench in all 31 of the squad's games and averaged 25.2 minutes. In his two years with the Knights, he has not made a start.

Taylor showed great improvement as a sophomore, shooting 47.3 percent overall and ranking fourth in the conference in 3-point field goal percentage (41.4). As a freshman, he averaged 4.3 points and shot just 39.5 percent from the floor and 30.4 percent from deep.



Last year, Taylor recorded his best offensive performances in non-league play. He had five 20-point outings against non-conference opponents, including 22-point contests at Minnesota and Colorado. The local product registered just one 20-point game in C-USA play. In order for the Knights to be successful, he must show more consistency offensively.

"Jermaine has the talent to be one of the better offensive players in C-USA," said Speraw. "He needs to take his game to another level and be focused every night."

Newcomer Cordell Pope will provide depth at small forward. A Birmingham native, he attended prep school in Cincinnati last year. Pope averaged 13.5 points, five assists and five boards at the Harmony Community School. At 6-foot-7 and 170 pounds, Pope has good size, but must improve his strength and conditioning.

"Cordell needs to learn how to compete this level. He is a very good shooter," said Speraw. "He needs to work on his ball skills and like most freshmen, needs to get bigger and stronger."