UCF Hoops Fastbreak: A Look at UCF's Top Guards of the 2000s

Dec. 26, 2009

By Doug Richards

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - With the decade set to conclude next week, now is a good time to look back at some of the best players who suited up for the Knights during the 2000s. Head coach Kirk Speraw had several impressive backcourt players during the decade, most notably shooting guard Jermaine Taylor.

Looking back at the 2000s, here is my list of the top-10 guards who finished their collegiate careers as Knights:

10. Justin Rose (2006-08)

Rose provided UCF fans with plenty of highlight-reel worthy slam dunks, including a jam over UConn's Josh Boone during the 2005 NCAA Tournament. As a senior in 2005-06, Rose was UCF's best all-around player and averaged 10.5 points and a team-best 5.7 rebounds despite standing just 6-foot-3.

9. Isaac Sosa (2008-Present)

Sosa might be the best long-distance shooter in UCF history. In 42 contests, Sosa has connected on 86 3-pointers. For his career, he is shooting 46.7 percent from deep. That mark ranks second all-time at UCF, and first in Conference USA history.

8. Kingsley Edwards (2003-05)

Edwards played both guard spots for the Knights, and did whatever was asked of him. As a result, UCF participated in the NCAA Tournament in both of his seasons in Orlando. As a senior in 2004-05, Edwards started 26 games and averaged 7.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists. That season, he recorded the second triple-double in UCF history with 10 points, 14 assists and 10 boards versus Troy.

7. Jason Thornton (1998-02)

One of the most prolific 3-point shooters in school history, Thornton ranks second all-time at UCF with 220 triples. As a junior, he ranked second in the country, making 49.5 percent of his attempts from deep. Thornton made a then school-record 94 treys that season. For his career, Thornton shot 43.6 percent from deep.

6. A.J. Rompza (2008-Present)

Would Taylor have earned All-America honors in 2008-09 without Rompza? That we will never know. What we do know is that Rompza gave up his own shot to get Taylor the ball time-after-time. The Chicago native averaged 5.2 assists, good enough to earn a spot on the C-USA All-Freshman Team. Rompza posted a 2.40 assist-turnover ratio, which ranked 23rd in the country.

5. Ray Abellard (2001-03)

One of the best 3-point shooters in school history, Abellard connected on 168 triples (seventh all-time at UCF) in just two years. He connected on 43.1 percent of his attempts from deep, good for third on the UCF career register. Abellard averaged a team-high 16.3 points as a senior. For his career, he averaged 14.7 points. During both of his campaigns in Orlando, he was selected to the All-Atlantic Sun Second Team.

4. Dave Noel (2005-08)

During his time at UCF, Noel developed into one of the best all-around players in program history. In 2007-08, he averaged 13.3 points, 4.2 boards and 3.1 assists. He shot 51.8 percent overall and led Conference USA, connecting on 45.5 percent of his 3-point field goal attempts. Despite his offensive excellence, Noel was a better defender. As a senior, he became the first Knight to earn a spot on the C-USA All-Defensive Team.

3. Mike O'Donnell (2005-08)

One of the most beloved players to take the court for the Knights, O'Donnell totaled 195 3-pointers at UCF, good for third in program history. His 75 treys as a senior ranked ninth on the school's single-season list. On seven occasions during his career, he drained at least six 3-pointers in a game. In 2007-08, he averaged a career-best 11.9 points. O'Donnell did more than just score while at UCF. He finished his career ranked fifth all-time with 319 assists and eighth with 140 steals.

2. Gary Johnson (2003-05)

In two campaigns at UCF, Johnson led the Knights to a pair of NCAA Tournaments and 49 total victories. He averaged 10.7 points and 3.0 rebounds while with the Knights. In his final contest, he hit seven treys and totaled 29 points against UConn in the NCAA Tournament. As a senior, Johnson connected on a UCF single-season record 103 triples. Johnson ranks ninth all-time with 142 3-pointers and is 10th in career steals (125).

1. Jermaine Taylor (2005-09

Clearly the most-talented player to don a UCF uniform, Taylor scored 1,979 career points, the most by a Knight at the Division I level. As a senior, he was third in the country in scoring at 26.2 points per game. That season, he earned C-USA Player of the Year honors and was an Associated Press All-America Honorable Mention selection. He was selected with the 32nd pick in the 2009 National Basketball Association Draft.

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