The UCF Knights Men’s Basketball team officially acquired some reinforcements this week as four transfers officially signed with the program: Forwards Michael Durr and Lahat Thioune, and guards Brandon Suggs and Ithiel Horton.
After five players exhausted their eligibility and six more departed via the transfer portal, only four players from last season’s roster remain: forward C.J. Walker and guards Darius Johnson, P.J. Edwards, and Tyem Freeman.
Combined with the addition of true freshmen Taylor and Tyler Hendricks, the quartet of transfers bring the roster size for the 2022-23 season up to ten players. This leaves three open scholarship roster spots remaining.
However, while head coach Johnny Dawkins still has some more adding to do, signing these four transfers is just one step to rebuilding the team.
Michael Durr, Forward
Happy to have you on board, Big Mike. Now let's get to work #ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/i7Y1H6gT5M— UCF Men’s Hoops (@UCF_MBB) May 5, 2022
While Durr is coming to UCF from Indiana, he has spent the majority of his collegiate career on the other side of the War on I-4.
The seven-footer was a three-year starter with USF as a center. In his final season with the Bulls (2020-21), Durr converted 57 of his 139 shots, hit 49 of 62 free throws, and pulled down 150 rebounds.
Durr’s time in Indiana last season was hindered due to a knee injury he sustained during the summer. Nonetheless, he still played in 30 games coming off the bench, hitting 13 of 34 field goals, going 19 for 26 at the free throw line, and bringing down 31 rebounds.
This upcoming season will be Durr’s final year of collegiate eligibility.
“He’s a versatile big and he’s going to step in and help provide an immediate defensive impact in the paint, which is vital to our success,” Dawkins said in a press release. “Michael’s ability to defend and rebound at a high level, as well as his previous experience in The American, will be important assets to our team. He’s a versatile scorer both in the low post and on the perimeter, and we can’t wait to get him on campus and get to work.”
Brandon Suggs, Forward/Guard
"[Brandon] has a lot of experience within the conference and we're just happy we don't have to play against him twice a year anymore."— UCF Men’s Hoops (@UCF_MBB) May 6, 2022
Couldn't agree more, @Coach_Dawkins pic.twitter.com/fkC2PQrizQ
The last time Suggs was in Addition Financial Arena, the former East Carolina Pirate left the court with an ankle injury that would keep him out for about three weeks.
Now, Suggs returns to Orlando as a UCF Knight with two years of collegiate eligibility remaining.
Despite his absence, Suggs still finished last season with 98 rebounds, 74 of 180 from the floor, and 83 of 107 free throws.
“He’s an experienced player with plenty of versatility that can score in a variety of different ways and is selfless with the ball,” Dawkins said in a press release. “He’s got a lot of experience within the conference and we’re happy that we don’t have to play against him twice a year anymore.”
Lahat Thioune, Forward
Welcome to the #UCFamily, Lahat ⚔️ #ChargeOn— UCF Men’s Hoops (@UCF_MBB) May 6, 2022
Following in the footsteps of his friend, former Florida Prep teammate, and fellow Dakar, Senegal native Cheikh Mbacke Diong, Thioune (pronounced CHOON) arrives at UCF after spending the last three seasons as a center for Utah.
While he started in five of his 27 games last season, he converted 41 of his 67 field goals, hit 21 of 25 free throws, and brought down 94 rebounds.
Thioune has two years of collegiate eligibility remaining.
“We love our Dakar hoopers and we believe Lahat will bring similar elements to his game that Mbacke and Tacko provided,” Dawkins said in a press release. “He’s a skilled big man with the sky as his limit, and we believe he will help us be a force in the paint for years to come.”
Ithiel Horton, Guard
⚔️Career 39.2% from 3️⃣— UCF Men’s Hoops (@UCF_MBB) May 6, 2022
⚔️11.6 points pgg
⚔️ 750+ career points
Happy to have you on our side, Ithiel #ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/ZliIinRWrt
Transferring to UCF will be a fresh start for the former Pittsburgh Panther.
In the 13 games he played last season, Horton started the last eight of them, converted 44 of 122 field goals, made 14 of 16 free throws, and brought down 35 rebounds. Horton also went 25 of 66 from behind the three-point line.
Horton, who will have two years of eligibility remaining, was suspended for the first half of last season after he was arrested for allegedly punching a police officer back in November. He was reinstated to the Panthers after he plead guilty to lesser charges and was sentenced to community service.
“He’s a talented player with a ton of potential, and we believe that he’ll be able to take a lot of things he learned at Pitt and apply them here with us from day one,” Dawkins said in a press release. “Ithiel’s ability to drain it from beyond the arc, combined with his athleticism and agility, will add an extra dimension to our team, and we’re looking forward to getting him in the building as soon as possible.”