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UCF Men’s Hoops Season Preview: Part 1 — The Backcourt

Mike O’Donnell dishes on the Knights’ guards and how their play will be key to a successful season

UCF 5th year guard, Darius Perry
Photo: UCF Athletics

Welcome to Part 1 of Black & Gold Banneret’s three-part series previewing the 2021-22 UCF Knights Men’s Basketball season, featuring eaturing CBS and ESPN basketball analyst and former UCF Knight Mike O’Donnell.

For this series, we are joined by former UCF Men’s Basketball great Mike O’Donnell. Mike played point guard from 2005-2008, after transferring from NC State, and was team captain for three years. After graduation, he spent one year as the Knights’ Director of Basketball Operations under then-Head Coach Donnie Jones.

Photo courtesy: Mike O’Donnell (@MOD4three)

Presently, you can see (and hear) him as a college basketball color analyst for both ESPN and CBS Sports. When he isn’t calling games, or working his 9-5, he is spending time at home with his lovely wife Annie and two adorable children. Sometimes he’s even allowed to sleep. You can follow him at @MOD4three on Twitter.

Today, we are discussing the Knights’ backcourt and what fans can expect to see out of it this unit.

What are the backcourt’s strengths?

There are three major strengths UCF has in its backcourt:

First, there is an abundance of playmaking talent. Darius Perry is probably UCF’s best playmaker, Brandon Mahan is excellent in 1v1 situations, and Darrin Green, Jr. is an elite three-point shooter.

Second, it has some serious depth. At least eight players could see time, whereas most teams usually only rotate eight players between the front and backcourt.

Third, UCF’s best playmakers (Perry and Mahan) are seniors, a rarity in today’s NCAA, so they have experience and knowledge to go along with their talent.

Who is the Knights’ key backcourt player?

NCAA Basketball: Central Florida at Cincinnati
Darius Perry
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Darius Perry. Perry is a scoring guard, but is at his (and UCF’s) best when he is in playmaking mode: That is, he’s not necessarily looking to score, but he’s looking to make the right play.

Just how important is he? When he is off the floor, Brandon Mahan, CJ Walker, and Isaiah Adams’ offensive efficiency drops nearly 10% each, as does their FG%, as opposed to when he is on the floor.

Who is the under-the-radar guy UCF fans should pay attention to?

Darius Johnson. He was a 4-star recruit in high school, and recruited by other high-major programs such as Florida, Providence, and Wake Forest. He is incredibly mature for a freshman — in fact, he plays like upperclassman. He is physical, and should see significant time this year. He may well be the future of UCF hoops.

Finish this statement: If this unit can improve on ______, then UCF should go dancing in March.

Continuity on offense. UCF needs to avoid falling in love with 1v1 basketball. This team is best when moving ball.

2021-22 UCF MBB backcourt

Number Player Name Height Weight Class Hometown Last School
Number Player Name Height Weight Class Hometown Last School
0 Darius Johnson 6-1 190 Fr. Boyds, Md. Episcopal (Va.)
1 Tony Johnson Jr. 6-3 185 Jr. Eufaula, Ala. The Skill Factory [Ga.]
2 Darius Perry 6-2 185 5th Marietta, Ga. Louisville
5 P.J. Edwards 6-4 200 Fr. Springfield, Ill. Liberty Heights (N.C.)
10 Levy Renaud 6-2 185 Sr. Fort Lauderdale, Fla. NSU University School
11 Tyem Freeman 6-6 210 R-So. Springfield, Mo. Indian Hills CC
13 Brandon Mahan 6-5 205 5th Birmingham, Ala. Texas A&M
22 Darin Green Jr. 6-4 185 Jr. Charlotte, N.C. Wharton [Fla.]
24 Dre Fuller Jr. 6-5 215 R-Jr. Fayetteville, N.C. Admiral Farragut [Fla.]