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Back in the Day Q&A: Isaiah Sykes

We catch up with the former UCF hoops star and Iraqi Division I League MVP

AAC Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinal Round - UCF v Cincinnati Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images

Ever wonder what the former UCF greats have been up to since graduating? We know you do.

The Back in the Day Q&A will feature interviews from some of your favorite former players across all sports. From favorite games to why they chose UCF, we’ll provide insight in their own words on what it was like for these athletes when they were a Knight.

Isaiah Sykes

UCF Men’s Basketball, 2010-2014

Central Florida v Florida Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Isaiah Sykes was a huge get for first-year coach Donnie Jones in 2010. Little did anyone know, Sykes’ name would find it’s what all over the UCF record book at the end of his career. The Michigan native has been playing overseas since graduating from UCF and recently won the Iraqi Division 1 Basketball League MVP. We caught up with him in this week’s Back in the Day Q&A.

UCF Career Highlights

  • 1,545 points (7th all-time)
  • 764 rebounds (3rd all-time)
  • 336 assists (5th all-time)
  • 183 steals (3rd all-time)
  • 2 Triple-Doubles (1st all-time)
  • All-Conference USA First Team (2012-13)
  • Conference USA All-Defensive Team (2012-13)
  • All-AAC Second Team (2013-14)


Since graduating from UCF in 2014, what have you been up to?

I’ve been playing professionally overseas.

What made you choose UCF over Michigan and Arkansas?

Just the vibes and the players, and of course I loved the campus.

How big of a difference in competition was it when moving to the AAC from C-USA?

It was a big difference but it’s what we always wanted; playing top teams, more fast pace and aggressive.

What do you think the main issue was from having three 20+ win seasons in a row to a 13 win season your senior season?

It just was a tough year. We played some great teams in conference. They were more high level, which was great for us.

Which former teammates have you stayed the closest with since graduating?

I pretty much stay in touch with all the guys, but the guys I talk to most are Keith Clanton (my ace), Staphon Blair and CJ Reed.

If you had to pick a starting five with you and four other former teammates, who would you pick?

Me, Keith Clanton, Tristan Spurlock, Matt Williams and Kasey Wilson or Staphon Blair. I’ve got to add Marcus Jordan to that five as well as AJ Rompza. There are many choices and great players I played with.

You were part of some exciting wins against #4 UConn, #18 Florida and Memphis. Which game that you played in was your all-time favorite?

I gotta go with playing Florida in the Magic’s new arena.

If you could change one thing about your college career, what would it be?

I wouldn’t change anything. Everything that happened helped me grow and learn as well as build great relations on and off court. And of course graduating meant a lot to me.

How do you think you’d perform in Johnny Dawkins’ current system?

I love Johnny Dawkins. The difference I see in his teams is discipline, and I love the way they do more team events and bonding, etc. The players have a high respect for him so he’s doing something right.

Which current UCF player reminds you of yourself the most?

Have to say Aubrey Dawkins, though he’s better shooter than I was in college. He does it all, whatever the team needs, and he is very versatile.

I know you won the MVP while over in Iraq. As an American, were you ever in fear of your safety? And is Iraq actually how we in America perceive it?

No, it’s safe and not how America perceives it to be. I went places alone as if I was home and walk around, etc. They had checkpoints for safety around anyway, but I never had any problems.