(W) Basketball

Party of Five
June 30, 2015
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July 1, 2015

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By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. ( - They've only been on campus for a week, but the UCF women's basketball team's freshman class is already showing signs of its personality as a group.

"We have challenges, running up the steps who can get to the room quickest. It's been fun," Kayla Thomas said. "I know we'll make an impact. We are headstrong, ready to go. We're all gym rats a little bit."

From the moment they all arrived on June 24, Thomas, Ashley Polacek, Kayla Thigpen, Tolulope Omokore and Jamesha Paul have been inseparable.

They've gotten lost on the way to class together. They spend time together in each other's dorm rooms. They play pickup games in the practice gym.

Some of them even share the same name --- they are still working as a group to find nicknames for Kayla Thomas and Kayla Thigpen.

Of the 12 student-athletes on UCF's roster, eight are underclassmen, so the potential for playing time is wide open when the season begins in November. And it's not lost on Omokore that with exactly five in their group, there's an opportunity for all of them to be on the court at the same time.

"I'm really excited and I'm glad we're in the summer program, so when season and fall classes start, we'll be able to handle it," she said. "I think we're going to have a great team."

Thigpen and Paul are already have a bit of chemistry on the court together. The two played for the same AAU team for two years prior to signing on with the Knights.

Talk to any one of the five, though, and they all echo each other's opinion that their chemistry as a group is already pretty solid.

"I feel like I've known them all my life. I know it's kind of cheesy but I feel closer with them than I've been with a lot of other people from back home," said Polacek, a native of Ontario, Canada. "I can't wait to spend the next four years with them."

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