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By Jenna Marina
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - Led by all-conference selection and hot-handed Zykira Lewis, the UCF women's basketball team is gearing up for another year in the American Athletic Conference. In addition to Fifi Ndour and Aliyah Gregory, who obtained significant experience in their rookie seasons, the Knights gain back Makenzi Reasor and Nyala Shuler, who suffered season-ending injuries early on in 2014. UCF also brings in five talented newcomers -- three of whom won state titles in 2015.
Led by head coach Joi Williams, who is about to embark on her ninth year at UCF, the Black and Gold are looking forward to making waves in the upcoming year.
UCF Summer Notebook
- UCF's tandem of Zykira Lewis and Aliyah Gregory are ready to lead the backcourt once again.
- The pair combined for 48 percent of the Knights' offensive production last year, combining for 912 points.
- Gregory obtained a wealth of experience in her first season as one of the American's top five leading rookie scorers while averaging 30.3 minutes per game.
- Three of UCF's incoming freshmen helped guide their respective high school teams to state championships in 2015.
- Kayla Thigpen became a two-time Sun Sentinel Player of the Year after helping Palm Beach Lakes to its first state title in program history in March.
- Tolulope Omokore helped Eleanor Roosevelt (Va.) clinch back-to-back state championships while Jamesha Paul led Dillard High School (Fort Lauderdale) to its ninth state championship.
- The Knights are also bringing in Kayla Thomas (Pa.) -- the first Mastery Charter student to sign with a Division I School on a full scholarship -- and Ashley Polacek, who won gold with Ontario's U17 team at the 2012 National Championship.
BACK IN ACTION
- Joslyn Massey will be able to suit up after sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules. She clocked time in 23 games for Purdue, including an appearance in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
- Makenzie Reasor (ACL) and Nyala Shuler (Lisfranc - foot) are expected to be back to form after suffering season-ending injuries in UCF's seventh game of the 2014-15 season.
- Shuler, a three-time state champion for Orlando's Edgewater, started in 5 of 7 games for the Knights in 2014-15 and received a medical hardship redshirt following her injury.
- Prior to her injury, Reasor -- a transfer from Indiana State -- was usually the first off the bench and shined with three double-digit outings, including a game-high 16 points against Jacksonville.
- Of the 12 student-athletes on UCF's roster, eight are underclassmen.
- Aliyah Gregory, Nyala Shuler and Fifi Ndour -- all rookies a year ago -- accounted for nearly a third of the team's minutes played last season. Moreover, Gregory and Ndour each started at least 20 games in 2014-15.
- UCF's lone senior, Erica Juarbe, started in 10 of 29 games played, averaging 1.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in 17.2 minutes per game last year.