Get to Know UCF Men’s Basketball
By Andrew Cherico
Orlando FL- The inaugural BIG 12 UCF Men’s Basketball season is upon us and there are a LOT of new names on this team. There are only 7 players out of 17 returning from the previous season of them returning are: C.J. Walker, Darius Johnson, Thierno Sylla, Tyler Hendricks, Poohpha Warakulnukroh, Michael Kalina, and Charlie May. The ten new players are: Jaylin Sellers, Shemari Allen, Omar Payne, Ibrahima Diallo, Demarr Langford Jr., Antwann Jones, Mintautas Mockus, Nils Machowski, Marchelus Avery, and Comeh Emuobor. This is a team that has been predicted to finish 14th, Last in the basketball powerhouse of the BIG 12 Conference. While predictions are a nice way to gauge talent on the roster, they are by no means final and this team definitely has the talent to finish higher than last place with that being said let’s take a deeper look into some of the talent on this roster that may be potential starters!
C.J. Walker, 5th Year Forward, 6’8 215 lbs.
Walker is no doubt one of the leaders of this basketball team as he has the longest reigning years on the team with 3. Battled with injuries last year but promises his “Bounce” is back and better than ever. Very athletic that attributes to big plays on both sides of the ball.
Darius Johnson, Junior Guard, 6’1 200 lbs.
Johnson a team captain averaged 2.2 steals a game last season while averaging 10 points alongside that. He mentions he wants to be the “Face of the defense” and “Be an on-ball pest”. Darius is a do-it-all kind of point guard, and you will see him putting UCF in positions to win close games this year.
Omar Payne, 5th Year Forward, 6’10 228 lbs. (Previous Team: Jacksonville University)
Payne is the definition of a “defensive anchor” and hard worker, and you will see him on the court when the team needs defense, rebounding, and hustle. He averaged 1 block per game last season and he most certainly looks to improve on that as that is what he takes the most pride in his game.
Shemari Allen, 5th Year Guard, 6’4 190 lbs. (Previous Team: UMKC)
Allen is a great definition of a 2-way threat who can change the game on defense and offense as he averaged 17 points per game last year along with 2 steals a game. He is an all-around scorer collecting a 41.4 field goal percentage last season.
Jaylin Sellers, Junior Guard, 6’4 196 lbs. (Previous Team: Ball State University)
Sellers is another 2-way player who can have an instant impact on this UCF team, he says his role is to come in and become one of the leading scorers touting a very strong dribble pull-up game, he averaged 13.5 points a game last season. Jaylin also tells us to expect a lot of effort on defense especially on the ball.
Ibrahima Diallo, 5th Year Center, 7’0 246 lbs. (Previous Team: San Jose State University)
Diallo is expected to be a game changer with his height and yet another defensive anchor on this defensive-focused UCF team. Diallo averaged 1.66 blocks a game last season and had an 8 block game! He adds great length and is expected to provide not only defense but easy shots inside the paint and rebounding.
Demarr Langford Jr., Senior Guard, 6’5 230 lbs. (Previous Team: Boston College)
Langford Jr. is going to make an immediate impact with his energy and physicality. Langford Jr. emphasized his role is to be vocal and be a leader on this team. He is also a good scorer who scored 20 points against a ranked Miami team.
Overall, these are just a few guys who are going to be game-changers this season as this Knights team has many talented players who are going to make an impact every night. This team most certainly has the talent to shock the BIG 12 conference it is just about executing, playing hard, and playing defense which Head Coach Johnny Dawkins emphasizes the most. UCF tips off Monday, November 6th at 8:00 pm EST against FIU at home, and following that they are on the road to face Miami on November 10th at 7:00 pm EST. The Knights always appreciate a great crowd so try to make it to as many games as you can and cheer the home team! How do you think this season is going to go? We will find out soon, and I’ll see you on the sidelines. Go knights, Charge on!