Nov. 10, 2011
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By Doug Richards
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Four talented prep standouts have signed National Letters of Intent to join the UCF men's basketball program, head coach Donnie Jones announced Thursday. The signing class consists of Taylor Barnette (Nicholasville, Ky.), Staphon Blair (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Dylan Karell (North Miami Beach, Fla.) and Matt Williams (Orlando, Fla.).
The group will join the UCF program prior to the 2012-13 campaign.
One of the premier shooters in the country, Barnette is a 6-foot-3 guard who attends Lexington Christian High School. As a junior last year, he averaged 17.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists. He garnered Lexington Herald-Leader All-City First Team honors and was a Louisville Courier-Journal All-State Honorable Mention pick in 2010-11. Barnette, who plays for coach Tommy Huston, averaged 17.0 points and 6.4 rebounds as a sophomore.
"Taylor really reminds me of Lee Humphrey, who we coached at Florida," Jones said. "He can really shoot it. He is a basketball player more than a shooter though. He has a great basketball IQ."
The 6-foot-8 Blair attends Dillard High School and is listed by Rivals.com as the 19th-best center in the nation. In 2010-11, he helped Dillard to a 23-4 record. Blair averaged 9.0 points, 10.0 boards and 2.0 blocks and received All-Broward Country honorable mention recognition from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and the Miami Herald. He plays at Dillard for coach Darryl Burrows.
"Staphon competes," Jones said. "He rebounds, he blocks shots and plays with great energy. He is an effort guy. He will bring some much-needed size to our frontcourt."
Karell is a 6-foot-10 center who attends Dr. Krop High School. As a junior, he averaged 11.0 points and 8.0 rebounds.
"Dylan has a huge upside. He is still growing and is 6-foot-10 now. He can step out and shoot the basketball like Matt Bonner, who we coached at Florida. He can really stretch the defense. Dylan is a really good athlete with a ton of potential," Jones said.
A local product, Williams is a 6-foot-5 guard who attends Jones High School. He averaged 15.3 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists as a junior when he led Jones to the Florida Class 3A state championship game and a 25-6 record. Williams was named to the Florida Class 3A All-State Third Team.
"Matt is a combo guard who has had a great career at Jones High School. He is a winner," Jones said. "Matt is a hard worker and a great athlete. He is somebody who can instantly help our depth in the backcourt."
The Knights will open the 2011-12 regular season on Saturday, hosting Saint Thomas. UCF will play 17 games at the UCF Arena this year. Season tickets, which start at just $96, are currently available by calling (407) UCF-1000 or by visiting UCFAthletics.com.