2016-2017 Season Review
In their first season under head coach Johnny Dawkins, the UCF basketball program saw massive improvements. After winning 13 games in 2013-2014, 12 games in 2014-2015 and 12 games again in 2015-2016, the Knights broke through for a 24-12 record. They went 11-7 in the American, good enough to finish fourth. Their marquee win of the season was when they beat Cincinnati in the second to last game of the regular season to rob the Bearcats of a conference title. The Knights received a #4 seed in the NIT, where they beat Colorado, Illinois State and Illinois to reach the semi-finals in New York City. They would lose in the semis to eventual champion TCU.
The Knights lost three key contributors to graduation, the biggest being Matt Williams. The guard put up 15.1 PPG and grabbed 4.3 RPG while hitting a school record 126 threes, which was second best in the nation. Tanksley Efianayi is gone after starting in 23 games for UCF and averaging 8.2 PPG. Also gone is forward Nick Banyard who averaged 6.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG, and hit 32 of 68 threes (47.1%). Banyard started 22 games during his senior season.
UCF brings back some big pieces from their 24 win team last season, led by 6’2 junior guard BJ Taylor. Taylor earned second team all-conference honors in a season in which he put up 17.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG and 3.5 APG.
The Knights also return 7’6 giant Tacko Fall. Fall was the defensive player of the year in the American. The junior-to-be averaged 10.9 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 2.6 BPG and shot an incredible 71.5% from the field last season.
6’9 senior AJ Davis is back after a junior campaign in which he averaged 8.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG and 2.4 APG. Chad Brown is a 6’9 junior that played 12.9 MPG last season. He scored 4.3 PPG and grabbed 3.5 RPG. Djordjije Mumin, a 6’5 senior, played 7.4 MPG last season, while 6’0 senior Nathan Laing played 10.8 MPG. 6’4 RS sophomore Chance McSpadden is also back after missing last season with an injury. He averaged 5.6 PPG as a freshman in 2015-2016.
Johnny Dawkins has four transfers that sat out last season that will be eligible to play this year. One of them is his son, Aubrey Dawkins, a 6’6 junior that played his first two seasons at Michigan. He scored 6.5 PPG and shot 44.0% from three during his sophomore season at Michigan. His shorting ability will be vital in replacing Matt Williams. UPDATE: Dawkins will miss the entire season after undergoing shoulder surgery. 6’2 Terrell Allen is a sophomore transfer from Drexel. As a freshman at Drexel Allen started started 29 games, averaging a 9.8/3.0/3.5 line. 6’4 junior transfer from Louisiana Tech, Dayon Griffin, started 29 games during his sophomore season in 2015-2016. He scored 11.3 PPG, grabbed 4.2 RPG and hit 56 threes. Rounding out the group of newcomers is 6’11 sophomore transfer from Texas Tech, Rokas Ulvydas. Rokas only appeared in nine games as a freshman, but will give UCF more size next to Tacko Fall.,
UCF hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2005, but Johnny Dawkins has himself a roster that has the potential to end that drought. A big key to making that happen will be finding guys that can hit shots from the outside. Matt Williams hit 47.9% of UCF’s threes last year, so that’s a big hole to fill. The transfers need to step in and make an immediate impact. Losing Aubrey Dawkins definitely hurts, but the Knights still have the potential to make the Big Dance.