UCF Basketball Preview

The Knights will look to build on a somewhat disappointing 16-15 season during the 2008-09 campaign with a nice blend of youth and experience.

While last season's barely .500 record and first-round exit in the C-USA Tournament wasn't exactly what the Knights were hoping for, UCF has the skill and depth to make a run at the NCAA Tournament this upcoming season.

UCF will have a lot of versatility on the roster this year and if the right guys step up, the Knights can be a very good team.

Point Guard: Who will be handling the ball is a major question for the Knights. UCF will probably toy around with different lineups and players and could use three shooting guards at a time to make up for an experience ball handler.

A.J. Rompza, a true freshman from Chicago (Ill.) might be the top option for UCF. He is a little undersized (listed at 5'8") but he is as tough as they come. Rompza has great presence on the court and is a natural leader, which was shown in an exhibition game against Flagler in which Rompza dished out eight assists.

Other options might be Will Weathers (another true frosh) or Taylor Young. Weathers likely will need time to develop but could be a good combo guard down the road, although he likely won't make an impact until later in the season. Young is another feisty player like Rompza who is a good defensive specialist considering his height (6'1").

Shooting Guard/Small Forward: Jermaine Taylor obviously gets the nod here, although he might play all the one or three spot at times too. Taylor averaged over 20 points per game for the Knights last year and has NBA potential. He has amazing athleticism, a solid three-point shot and should improve on his gaudy numbers from last season.

Chris Baez and Isaac Sosa are two freshmen that can make an immediate impact for the Knights, as they are both pure shooters with good height (6'5" and 6'3"respectively.) Either one can see the floor as a starter, but at the very least, both should be making a significant impact by the end of the year.

Drew Speraw and Amar Thompson will provide good depth as combo guards. Thompson will need some time to develop while Speraw knows his role and is fundamentally sound. David Diakite was a late commitment for UCF and could be an unheralded steal. In fact, Diakite could break into the rotation very early this season.

Power Forward/Center: Kendrick Zondervan is a fan favorite who plays with a ton of energy. He doesn't have an extreme amount of athleticism but does what he's asked to do and that alone will give him the starting nod as one of the two big men for UCF.

A.J. Tyler, a transfer from Clemson, is a finesse player who can shoot the ball from all over the floor. He should be a starting next to Zondervan.

The big man depth is fantastic for the Knights. Tony Davis is an athletic post player who can become a disruptive force on defense, but he will be out for the first month of the season with an injury.

Jean Michel Yotio also has potential to be a good forward/center. He has solid body and could work his way into the starting lineup by the end of the season.

True freshmen P.J. Gaynor and Jakub Kusmieruk could also log some minutes this year. Gaynor is built in a similar mold as Tyler and could develop into a good perimeter threat who can also post up. Kusmieruk is obviously a project at 7'3" but he has good coordination for a player of his stature.


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