The Lewis Legacy

Many Memories 41 Points In 41 Seconds Zykira Lewis bio

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – Over the last four years, Zykira Lewis has been the face of UCF Women's Basketball.
With 271 made three-pointers, she holds the women's school record, and comes in just behind Matt Williams (274) on the men's side.
She was a unanimous selection on the American Athletic Conference All-Freshman Team in 2013-14. The following year, she set the UCF record for the most three-pointers made in a single season (96). As a junior, she became the 21st 1,000-point scorer in UCF history. She closed out her senior campaign with all-conference honors and finished ranked in the top 10 in six different career categories.
The oldest of her siblings, Lewis was raised by her mother and grandmother in Bartow, Fla. Her first love was for baseball, and only segued into basketball at her brother's urging.
"My grandma's uncle got me into basketball because he coached a rec league team," Lewis explained. "My brother started playing first.  He basically forced me because I didn't want to. But I did it, and I ended up staying with it."
And while her name is now scattered throughout the UCF record books, her hoops career did not get off to a great start.
"I started playing basketball when I was 11, and I wasn't good," Lewis recalled. "I played on a team with older girls that were high school and I was in middle school. I only made two free throws in the championship game. That's it. I was double dribbling and everything. After that, I stopped playing for a year. Then, for some reason, in seventh grade, I started playing again."
Lewis continued to play and improved each season. By the time she was a sophomore at Bartow High School, she averaged 24 points per game. With three Polk County First Team selections and a pair of all-state first team honors to her name, Lewis didn't have to go far when the time came to choose a school to further her education.
Located less than two hours from her hometown, UCF felt like the perfect fit for the 5-foot-8 guard.
Statistically, she flourished as a Knight. She also experienced three different coaching staffs, including the arrival of head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson for her senior season.
"I feel like it helped me in different ways," Lewis reflected. "I was able to learn from different people. I could learn what I needed to do from different people; how they felt I could improve. It kind all worked out in the end, especially this year."
While she was dangerous beyond the arc, it wasn't her shooting that she wanted to be the first thing that came to people's minds.
"Do I want to be known as 'the three-point shooter'? No," Lewis admitted. "I want to be known as an all-around player. Making my own shot, playing defense, all of that."
The arrival of defensive-minded Coach Abe helped shift her focus.
"I always liked to get steals, but when Coach Abe came in, she talked about defense a lot and how defense was important," Lewis said "I thought 'I like steals. I like to get steals. I might as well gamble and try to get some steals.' I guess it worked out."
It sure did. Lewis finished her career ranked third all-time at UCF in steals.
Shooting, quick hands and athleticism are all of her trademarks, but an even-keel, laidback attitude is something that those around her see all of the time. Goofy is often the word used to describe her, but her greatness was not lost on them.
"Being Zy's teammate for the past three years is almost indescribable," Nyala Shuler said. "She's one of the best players that I've ever played with. Not only is she a great teammate, but over the past few years, we've grown really close and is someone I can call a true friend."
When she was asked to look back on what stuck out the most from her career, Lewis didn't recall any of her accolades or records. Instead, she was quick to point out the growth of the team, and the program.
"Playing with Zy for three years has been a privilege and a blessing," Aliyah Gregory said. "Zy is a good player who makes everyone else around her better, and she always puts the team first. A lot of people just see Zy as a basketball player, but most people probably don't know that she is one of the most caring people I have ever met. She has always looked out for me since I stepped foot on campus, and I can't thank her enough for that."
On May 6, she will walk across the stage with a degree in criminal justice.
"I think I want to be in the FBI, but that's going to take a little time," Lewis said. "I'll probably go into the police force. My teammates say I could be a lawyer because I can argue, and I never like to lose an argument."
But first, she wants to give a professional basketball career a go.
"It's basically just a waiting game right now," Lewis said. "I'm just going to keep working out, stay in shape and be ready when they call me. I don't want to be done playing yet. Whether it's five years or two years, I just want to keep playing."
While basketball may not have started as her first passion, it quickly became one and somewhere along the way, it tied her to UCF forever.