Men's Basketball Set for Opening Tip Against UNC Asheville

ORLANDO – The UCF men's basketball team is set to begin its 2022-23 campaign, hosting UNC Ashville on Monday night at 8 p.m. inside Addition Financial Arena.

Head Coach Johnny Dawkins enters his seventh season at the helm of the Knights' program after finishing the 2021-22 slate with an 18-12 record, including a remarkable 13-3 record at home. Overall, the Knights have gone 71-21 at home during the Dawkins era, a .772 winning percentage.

UCF's season begins with a three-game homestand, and it gets started against the Bulldogs Monday, a team that was picked to finish third in the Big South's preseason poll. The two sides have only met three times in program history, with the Knights winning all three matchups. The last time UCF met UNC Ashville on the hardwood was back in 1990, a 91-76 Knight victory in Orlando.

UCF is 6-0 in season openers under Dawkins, defeating Robert Morris at home 69-59 last year to open the season.

C.J. Walker, Darius Johnson, Tyem Freeman and P.J. Edwards are the returners from last year's squad and the Knights welcome 12 newcomers, including six transfers. Walker brought plenty of firepower offensively and added some flashy dunks in the process of playing in all 30 games while starting 19. He shot 47.9% while averaging 8.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.

Johnson also played in every game last season, starting 13 games, including the last 11. He was among the top four on the team in free-throw percentage and third on the team in steals en route to claiming American Athletic Conference All-Rookie Team honors.

Freeman saw action in 28 games and shot 57% from the field in the process. Edwards redshirted last season.

Headlining the class of newcomers are six transfers. Lahat Thioune joins UCF from Utah, while Jayhlon Young comes from Baton Rouge CC, Michael Durr from Indiana, Brandon Suggs from ECU, Ithiel Horton from Pitt and C.J. Kelly from UMass.

The Knights landed a pair of highly-touted freshmen, signing twins Taylor and Tyler Hendricks. Taylor was ranked as a four-star recruit out of high school and was ranked 54th in the nation in his recruiting class by ESPN, including the 11th player in Florida and the 13th overall power forward. Taylor and Tyler have enjoyed plenty of success together, including winning back-to-back state championships. The two led Calvary Christian Academy to Florida 3A state titles in their final two years under coach Cilk McSweeny.

Thierno Sylla, Charlie May, Michael Kalina and Poohpha Warakulnukroh round out the remaining newcomers.

Monday features a doubleheader on the hardwood, with the UCF women's basketball team taking the floor against Winthrop at 6 p.m. and the men's team tipping off shortly after the conclusion of the prior contest.