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UCF Men’s Hoops Season Preview: Part 2 — The Frontcourt

Mike O’Donnell assists the Banneret in previewing just how important the Knights’ bigs will be this year

NCAA Basketball: East Carolina at Central Florida
C.J. Walker
Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Part 2 of Black & Gold Banneret’s three-part series previewing the 2021-22 UCF Knights Men’s Basketball season, featuring Mike O’Donnell.

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

What are the frontcourt’s strengths?

There are two major strengths UCF has in its frontcourt:

First, this unit has an abundance of depth. Even though there is no true center in the group, the frontcourt runs deep. For instance, last year C.J. Walker led The American in blocked shots per game at 1.7 per game (and was 47th in the nation), but now will be joined by fifth-year transfer Cheikh Mbacke Diong from UNLV, who was fourth in the Mountain West in blocks. This could be one of the best shot-blocking duos in the conference.

Second, this unit is versatile defensively. In addition to guarding other frontcourt players (think centers and power forwards), UCF’s frontcourt has many players who can also effectively defend the perimeter, which is generally smaller and quicker guards and wings.

Who is the Knights’ key frontcourt player?

NCAA Basketball: San Diego State at UNLV
Cheikh Mbacke Diong
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

. Last year, the Knights lacked a true rim protector. C.J. Walker did lead the conference in blocked shots, but many of them came from the weak side. What UCF lacked was a shot-alterer – something Tacko Fall was exceptional at – which allowed opponents to get easy buckets. Diong’s size and experience should allow UCF to take up space in the paint, leading to more altered or deterred shots.

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

Sean Mobley. He is the Knights’ ‘glue guy;’ the Swiss Army knife. When on the court, he is likely the second-best passer, the best at blocking out for rebounds, and he may be the most fundamentally sound defender in the Knights’ frontcourt.

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

Shot blocking and rim protection. C.J. Walker will get his blocks, but if Mobley, Jamille Reynolds, and Mbake can make it difficult for opponents to score within three feet of the rim, then UCF’s defensive efficiency will increase. In fact, UCF was second-to-last in The American in defensive two-point FG% for the 2020-21 season.

2021 UCF MBB Frontcourt

Number Player Name Height Weight Class Hometown Last School
Number Player Name Height Weight Class Hometown Last School
3 Isaiah Adams 6-6 210 So. Jacksonville, Fla. Paxon
4 Jamille Reynolds 6-10 285 So. St. Petersburg, Fla. Lakewood
12 Ed'Xavior Rhodes 6-9 210 Fr. Dallas, Texas Skyline
20 Sean Mobley 6-8 235 R-Sr. Orlando, Fla. VCU
21 C.J. Walker 6-8 205 Jr. Sanford, Fla. Oregon
25 Ryan Anders 6-6 235 Sr. Tampa, Fla. Wharton
34 Cheikh Mbacke Diong 6-11 235 R-Sr. Dakar, Senegal UNLV