UCF Men's Basketball Summer Preview

July 13, 2006

UCF Men's Basketball Prospectus in PDF Format
Download Free Acrobat Reader

Following a 14-15 overall record in its first season in Conference USA a year ago, UCF will be looking to return to its winning ways in 2006-07. The Golden Knights, who have averaged over 20 wins in the last four years, return eight letterwinners and three starters from last season's squad.

? Forward Josh Peppers is back for his senior season. An all-conference candidate, he is the third leading returning scorer among all Conference USA players after averaging 13.7 points per game a year ago. He connected on 59 3-pointers and paced UCF in scoring on 15 occasions. Peppers needs just 66 points to become the 13th 1,000-point scorer in program history.

? UCF should be one of the top defensive squads in Conference USA. A year ago, UCF opponents averaged just 63.4 points per contest and the Golden Knights held 15 foes to below 60 points.

? Junior guard Mike O'Donnell returns to lead the Golden Knights' offense. The point guard started all 29 games a year ago in his first season in Orlando after transferring from NC State. He averaged 8.3 points and four assists per contest. His 2.30 assist/turnover ratio was good for second in Conference USA.

? In 2005-06, UCF was the top 3-point shooting squad in the league, hitting 36.5 percent of its attempts from behind-the-arc. The Golden Knights' success from deep should continue this season as two UCF returnees - Mike O'Donnell (37.1 percent) and Josh Peppers (36.9) - were among the conference leaders from 3-point range. UCF will also add a pair of 3-point specialists in junior guard Mike Battle, who sat out last year with an injury, and junior college point guard Chip Cartwright.

? There will be a new big man on campus this year at UCF as center Stanley Billings joins the Golden Knights' program. At 6-foot-11, Billings averaged 13.9 points, nine rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game as a sophomore at Independence Community College in Kansas last year. He shot 56.2 percent from the floor and earned National Junior College Athletic Association Region VI First Team honors for the second consecutive year. The Orlando native graduated from Oak Ridge High School in 1996, where he did not play basketball. He started playing the game while in the Marines, where he spent eight years as a chef.

? The Golden Knights will have to replace two starters, shooting guard Justin Rose and power forward Anthony Williams, who were both lost to graduation. Rose was UCF's top all-around player a year ago, averaging 10.5 points and a team-high 5.7 rebounds while shooting 39.7 percent from 3-point range. Williams averaged 9.3 points, 5.2 boards and blocked 33 shots as a senior.

? Junior shooting guard Mike Battle, who sat out the 2005-06 campaign with a leg injury, will compete with sophomore Jermaine Taylor for a starting spot. Battle has not played since 2004-05 when he helped lead Paris Junior College to the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I title. He averaged 9.5 points as a sophomore. Taylor saw action in all 29 games last season, averaging 4.3 points and 2.2 rebounds in 11.7 minutes per contest.

? Junior college transfer Chip Cartwright will back up Mike O'Donnell at point guard and will also see time at the shooting guard spot. At Angelina College in Texas last season, the 6-foot Cartwright was a National Junior College Athletic Association All-America honorable mention pick. He averaged 14.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game.

? There will be a new face on the UCF bench this season as Mike Jaskulski has joined the staff as the associate head coach. Jaskulski replaces Tom Schuberth, who was hired as the head coach at Texas-Pan American in April. Jaskulski comes to UCF after serving as an assistant at Florida State for four years.

? Head coach Kirk Speraw's impressive signing class includes a pair of high school forwards in Tony Davis and Andre Thornton. Davis, from Sarasota, was the Florida Class 6A Player of the Year at Riverview High School last year. A finalist for the Florida Dairy Farmers Mr. Basketball Award, Davis averaged 20.7 points and 12.2 rebounds per contest as a senior. A Tennessee native, Thornton helped lead Memphis' Mitchell High School to the state Class AA title game. He averaged 11.4 points per contest and played in the Memphis All-Star Classic game.

? UCF will also have the services of Taylor Young, who earned Florida Class 2A Player of the Year honors at The First Academy in Orlando last year. The point guard averaged 25 points as a senior.