One of the big questions awaiting the UCF Men's Basketball team this season was: How would the Knights replace Matt Williams, the best 3-point shooter in program history?
Aubrey Dawkins and B.J. Taylor were the easy choices initially, but with both players injured before the Knights finished their first game, someone else had to fill those shows. And it looks like the Knights have found the answer to that question within the past week or so with Williams' old roommate, senior Djordjije Mumin, who has hit eight 3-pointers in the last three games. However, Mumin -- you can call him George -- isn't your typical senior sharpshooter. He has come a long way to get to this point, literally and figuratively.
Mumin, a native of Podgorica, Montenegro, was a freshman walk-on with the Knights in 2014 and spent most of his first two seasons at the very end of UCF's bench. He played a total 21 minutes in those two years under head coach Donnie Jones. The most that UCF fans saw of Mumin during this time probably came in this fantastic video:
After Johnny Dawkins replaced Jones at the helm, Mumin saw much more on-court action last season, getting involved in 27 contests. Still, his greatest contributions were coming away from the bright lights. That finally changed last month after the Knights scored fewer than 50 points in consecutive losses at the Advocare Tournament. They made just two of 25 3-point attempts that weekend and were barely north of 20 percent from deep on the year. They were in desperate need of some perimeter offense. So, Dawkins turned to Mumin prior to their game versus Missouri on Nov. 30 and told him he would be getting the first start of his career.
"It was definitely a surprise for me, but in another way, I was ready," Mumin said.
He tallied three points and three rebounds in 19 minutes that night, but Dawkins had seen enough to give Mumin another run with the starters at No. 24 Alabama on Dec. 3. Mumin pitched in a trio of 3s during that resume-building win and backed that up with a career-high 12 points -- all of which came on 3-pointers -- in a victory versus Southern on Saturday.
"George has really stepped up for us and I'm really proud of him," Dawkins said. "I've always talked to our team and I've talked to him specifically about being ready for your opportunities. Opportunities come around every season for guys, and most guys aren't ready for them. I said, 'Make sure you stay ready.' And I'm just proud that he has been. That shows great focus and great commitment to the program."
Suddenly, the walk-on who almost never played is on the floor for 20-25 minutes per night and looks like UCF's best shooter. Mumin's nine treys are the second-most on the team and he is shooting 64 percent from beyond the arc. Point guard Terrell Allen said Friday that Mumin is indeed the Knights' best 3-point threat. When asked if he agrees with that take, Mumin responded confidently: "Yes, sir."
Mumin doesn't doubt himself because he knows how much time he has put in preparing for this moment. He didn't take an offseason trip home to Montenegro this summer because he wanted to stay around campus and put up at least 500 shots per day in the gym. Plus, he gets to lean on the best shooter UCF has ever known for guidance.
"He is my brother," Mumin said of Williams. "We lived together for three years. We worked out every day together. ... He's the one who helped me every day off the
court. When it comes to the games, he also gave me suggestions of what to do and how to play."
Williams is currently splitting his time between the Miami Heat and their G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, but he and Mumin find time to talk every day. Mumin said the current pro advises him to continue playing hard defense and "wait for your open looks."
Mumin is getting a long look from the Knights' coaching staff now and he isn't waiting to take advantage.
"I've been waiting for this opportunity almost four years and I'm ready for it," Mumin said. "I will make the most of it."
Shooting 64 percent from 3-point range certainly qualifies as making the most of it.