For the first time in UCF’s Division I history, the men’s basketball team has been picked to win its conference by the league’s coaches.
The coaches of the American Athletic Conference selected the Knights on Monday morning as the favorite for the upcoming 2018-19 season. UCF edged defending league champion Cincinnati in the vote.
The UCF men’s basketball program has won four conference championships since the 1984-85 season when it joined the Division I ranks — most recently capturing the league title in 2004-05 — but never has the program been picked to win the league by the conference’s coaches.
The American’s coaches aren’t the only ones who have high expectations for UCF for 2018-19. The Knights were pinned at No. 23 among NCAA.com’s preseason Power 36 rankings last week.
“With these kind of expectations, we’re going to be targeted. But at the end of the day, we know what our team is capable of.”
Entering his third season, head coach Johnny Dawkins will lead this year’s talented squad, which features prior all-conference performers BJ Taylor and Tacko Fall, who are back for their final run in black and gold uniforms.
Both were selected by The American’s coaches as 2018-19 Preseason All-Conference honorees, and Taylor was singled out as the league’s Preseason Player of the Year.
“With these kind of expectations, we’re going to be targeted. But at the end of the day, we know what our team is capable of. Our staff and our team knows what it takes to get where we want to be, so for us it’s all about staying focused on what we need to focus on every day,” Taylor says. “I’m grateful to be in this position. I’m excited that we have such a great team for my last year. I think we can really make a deep run, and it’s awesome that my last year could be our best year.”
Chad Brown, Ceasar DeJesus, Dayon Griffin and Chance McSpadden all return with another year of experience, and Aubrey Dawkins is finally expected to make his debut as a Knight this winter. The former University of Michigan star sat out 2016-17 after transferring and then missed all of last season with a shoulder injury.
The Knights officially open the 2018-19 campaign on Nov. 6. against Rider at 6:30 p.m. at CFE Arena, but fans can catch them along with the women’s team before then at the First Watch Fan Fest. The women’s team will find out its standing in The American’s preseason poll on Tuesday.
First Watch Fan Fest
The basketball programs will host Fan Fest at CFE Arena on Oct. 25. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the program is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. The free event will give fans an opportunity to meet and greet with the men’s and women’s basketball teams, win prizes and hear from coaches Dawkins and Katie Abrahamson-Henderson.
The UCF cheer team, KnightMoves dance team and Knightro will also be in attendance performing for fans between a skill challenge, three-point shootout and dunk contest.
The first 500 students at Fan Fest will receive a First Watch gift card and one student will have the opportunity to take a shot from half court to win a semester of tuition courtesy of First Watch.
Tickets for 2018-19
Fans excited for the upcoming 2018-19 UCF men’s and women’s basketball seasons can purchase tickets today by calling 407-823-1000.