#59 Central Florida Knights: College Basketball 111 in 111

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Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

Remember when the Central Florida Knights won their first fourteen games of the 2010-2011 season?  That was fun.  You know what wasn’t fun for UCF fans? Following up that win streak with eight consecutive losses and finishing 6-10 in Conference USA.  Which Knights team will we see this season?

CENTRAL FLORIDA KNIGHTS
Last Season: 9th, 6-10 in C-USA, 21-12 overall
Predicted C-USA Finish: 2nd

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Josh Crittle (Jr)/Dwight McCombs (Sr)
PF: Keith Clanton (Jr)/P.J. Gaynor (Sr)/Wayne Martin (Fr)/Kasey Wilson (Fr)
SF: Tristan Spurlock (So)/Rod Days (Fr)
SG: Marcus Jordan (Jr)/Isaiah Sykes (So)
PG: A.J. Rompza (Sr)/Jeff Jordan (Sr)

Gone: F/C-A.J. Tyler, C-Tom Herzog, PG-Taylor Young, SG-Isaac Sosa (transfer-Canisius), PG-Jarvis Davis (transfer-Gardner-Webb), F-David Diakite (transfer-Rollins College)

marcus jordan jeff jordan

2011-2012 Outlook:
This year’s team will have a different look to it with three transfers becoming eligible after sitting out last season.  Former Illinois point guard Jeff Jordan joins his younger brother Marcus at UCF.  Jeff is more of a true point guard who is effective as a distributor and defender but not a real scoring threat.  He figures to compete with last year’s starter A.J. Rompza who saw his production dip last season due to a decreased playing time.

Marcus led the Knight in points and assists last season and will start at the two.  He is a talented all-around scorer but needs to improve his shot selection and decision-making to take the next step in his game.  Sophomore Isaiah Sykes is a versatile guard and will be a key reserve for UCF.  He could even see some time at the point this year.

Sykes could also end up starting at small forward if he beats out former Virginia Cavalier Tristan Spurlock.  Spurlock was highly recruited coming out of high school but never truly fit in with Tony Bennett’s style resulting in his transfer to UCF.  Spurlock has a nice combination of size and athleticism and could play some power forward if Donnie Jones chooses to go with a smaller line-up.  Freshman Rod Days might be the odd man out on the wing.

Keith Clanton will look to build off a solid sophomore campaign and anchor the frontcourt.  Oregon transfer Josh Crittle is another big body inside who will likely compete with P.J. Gaynor and Dwight McCombs for starting spot alongside Clanton.  McCombs is more of a true big man while Gaynor is a versatile forward and capable of stretching defenses with his outside shot.  Freshmen Wayne Martin and Kasey Wilson probably won’t see much of the floor this season.

The frontcourt was supposed to get an even bigger boost with the arrival of freshman center Michael Chandler.  However, Chandler did not qualify at UCF and will instead attend prep school this season.  The Knights did pick up another transfer in Bethune-Cookman combo guard C.J. Reed who was the MEAC Player of the Year last season but must sit out this year per NCAA rules.

After Memphis, Conference USA is up for grabs and there is no certainty that two teams will make the NCAA Tournament.  On paper, UCF is the most talented of those teams but must hold off the always competitive UAB and Tulsa.  A quick start would be very helpful but this year the Knights must sustain their success during conference play.

Player to Watch: Keith Clanton
Clanton has not received a lot of attention on the national scene but could get his due this season if UCF plays up to their potential.  At 6-9, 245 pounds, Clanton can throw his body around inside and has a nice back to the basket game.  He is also a much improved outside shooter as he connected on nearly 38% of his triple tries a year ago.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/14 at Florida State
11/24 vs. Charleston (Battle 4 Atlantis)
11/25 vs. Florida State/UMass (Battle 4 Atlantis)
11/27 vs. UConn/UNC-Ashville/Harvard/Utah (Battle 4 Atlantis)
12/17 vs. Old Dominion

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#60 Long Beach State 49ers
#61 Virginia Tech Hokies
#62 Clemson Tigers
#63 New Mexico State Aggies
#64 Tennessee Volunteers
#65 Iona Gaels
#66 Murray State Racers
#67 N.C. State Wolfpack
#68 Fairfield Stags
#69 George Washingon Colonials
#70 Indiana State Sycamores
#71 Oklahoma State Cowboys
#72 Indiana Hoosiers
#73 UAB Blazers
#74 Iowa State Cyclones
#75 Creighton Bluejays
#76 USC Trojans
#77 Weber State Wildcats
#78 Maryland Terrapins
#79 Tulsa Golden Hurricane
#80 Minnesota Golden Gophers
#81 Western Michigan Broncos
#82 Dayton Flyers
#83 Stanford Cardinal
#84 Yale Bulldogs

#85 Georgia Bulldogs
#86 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#87 Richmond Spiders
#88 Ball State Cardinals
#89 Utah State Aggies
#90 Arizona State Sun Devils
#91 Marshall Thundering Herd
#92 Oregon State Beavers
#93 Washington State Cougars
#94 Iowa Hawkeyes
#95 Ole Miss Rebels
#96 Nebraska Cornhuskers
#97 Oklahoma Sooners
#98 South Florida Bulls
#99 LSU Tigers
#100 Colorado Buffaloes
#101 DePaul Blue Demons
#102 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#103 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#104 Seton Hall Pirates
#105 Providence Friars
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 South Carolina Gamecocks
#108 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#109 Penn State Nittany Lions
#110 Boston College Eagles
#111 Utah Utes

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

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