Oct. 4, 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 power forwards: Tony Davis (Sarasota, Fla./Riverview), Andre Thornton (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell) and Jean Michel Yotio (Abidjan, Ivory Coast/Montverde Academy).
Lavell Payne had a stellar senior campaign for the Knights last year, starting all 31 contests at power forward. An athletic player, he averaged 10.8 points and 5.5 boards for the year. In league play, Payne averaged 13.3 points and shot 51.8 percent from the floor.
Davis appears to be the top candidate to replace Payne in the starting lineup. As a rookie last year, Davis played in all 31 games as a reserve and averaged 2.9 points and 3.8 rebounds. He recorded some strong outings early in the year, including a 14-point, seven-rebound game against Jacksonville, but saw his offensive output decrease during the season.
"Tony is an individual that we need to help fill the void of Lavell Payne
," said Speraw. "He has got to get stronger and develop more of an inside presence. He needs to elevate his game similar to the way any player does going into their sophomore year."
As a freshman in 2006-07, Thornton appeared in 12 games, averaging 4.9 minutes. When he did see time, he was not shy on the offensive end as he averaged 2.6 points and shot 58.3 percent overall. A strong, intelligent player, Thornton should see more time on the floor this season.
"Andre has a lot of potential. He is a smart player who should be able to make an impact in his sophomore season," said Speraw.
Yotio will bring a physical presence that the team lacked last year. At 6-foot-9, 235 pounds, he is not afraid to mix it up inside.
"He brings a toughness to the team. He can knock some people around," said Speraw. "Jean Michel listens well and does whatever is necessary to help his team win."
A native of the Ivory Coast, Yotio prepped at nearby Montverde Academy. On a team filled with Division I prospects, he averaged eight points and six rebounds in 15 minutes per contest as a senior.