Five Star

Nov. 27, 2013

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By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. ( - As the Knights began preparing for their first year in one of the nation's premier women's basketball leagues, the team was faced with the challenge of replacing one of the program's most dependable offensive weapons.

Gevenia Carter, who proudly sported the #5 black and gold jersey for four years, graduated in Summer 2013 after inserting herself into the record books as one of the program's all-time top-10 scorers.

Perhaps it is by happy accident that UCF freshman Zykira Lewis ended up with the #5 jersey this year. Or perhaps, just maybe, it's a sign of what's to come.

The reigning American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Week has made quite an impression in her first few weeks of the season. She's the only Knight to score in double figures in all five games. As a result, she's the American's leading rookie scorer.

"She has a motor. She's explosive, athletic and just loves to play the game," UCF head coach Joi Williams said. "She can score off the dribble, she can shoot the 3, she has a very good mid-range game. She has a knack for the basket. She is confident in her scoring ability, and it really helps her."

Lewis started playing basketball at the age of 11 after years of holding her own with her brother and his friends on her neighborhood's football and baseball fields.

"I never played with girls when I was younger," the Bartow, Fla., native said. "I'm used to playing with boys. Even though I was a girl, they didn't treat me like one. They were physical."

She thinks that experience is what helps her be the aggressive scoring threat she is now.

Williams remembers the first time she saw Lewis play. Although it wasn't the all-state selection's best performance for Bartow High School, her talent was still clearly evident to those in the stands.

"You could pick her out of the crowd and tell that she was very athletic, that she had a lot of skills," Williams said.

Lewis said she chose to sign with UCF because of her love for the coaching staff and the campus. She also wanted to stay close to her mother, grandmother, sisters, brother, aunts, cousins and uncle, so they could all attend her games.

Lewis' successful start just fuels her desire for more. She said she's constantly working to improve her defensive game, and her goals for the season are more about the team rather than individualistic.

"I hope to surprise a lot of people as a team," Lewis said. "I want to win a conference championship and get to the NCAA Tournament."



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