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Breaking Down UCF’s Projected Men’s Basketball Roster

With Ithiel Horton in the portal, UCF will need big contributions from 5th-year newcomers

C. J. Walker Basketball dunk
C. J. Walker
Photo: Derek Warden

The UCF Knights Men’s Basketball program suffered another departure this week, with Ithiel Horton deciding he will enter the transfer portal after just one season. Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinel broke the news first:

Horton was a redshirt senior last season, but still had one year of eligibility left. He initially declared for the NBA Draft, but withdrew his name in May. Now, the Knights’ third-leading scorer (12.3 points per game on a team-high 399 shots) will ostensibly be going to his fourth program after stops at Delaware, Pitt, and UCF.

For now, it seems the exit portion of the offseason portal moves is over. UCF has made its share of acquisitions via the portal this offseason as well, and so now is a good time to look at the current state of the roster heading into Year 1 in the Big 12.

Last Year’s Roster

Here’s UCF’s roster as of the end of last season, and the status of those who were on it:

2022-23 Men’s Basketball Roster

## Player Pos Ht 2023-24 Status Games Starts MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3FG% FT%
## Player Pos Ht 2023-24 Status Games Starts MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3FG% FT%
0 Lahat Thioune F 6-10 Grad Transferred - South Dakota 34 10 13.4 2.6 3.0 0.3 0.3 0.0 47% 0% 64%
1 Jayhlon Young G 6-2 Transferred - Memphis 33 12 19.2 4.5 2.2 2.0 0.7 0.1 37% 36% 82%
2 Michael Durr F 7-0 Graduated 25 23 21.4 5.5 4.6 0.8 0.2 0.9 46% 13% 72%
3 Darius Johnson G 6-1 Returning 25 22 30.9 10.0 3.0 4.2 2.2 0.1 39% 27% 86%
4 Brandon Suggs G/F 6-6 Grad Transferred - New Mexico State 32 8 19.2 6.6 3.2 0.9 0.8 0.1 47% 41% 77%
5 P.J. Edwards G 6-4 Transferred - Bowling Green 19 0 6.6 1.7 0.9 0.4 0.2 0.0 37% 26% 0%
10 Pooh Warakulnukroh G 5-11 Returning 7 0 2.0 1.7 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.0 67% 100% 50%
11 Tyem Freeman G 6-6 Grad Transferred - Kent State 26 1 11.8 3.4 2.2 1.0 0.2 0.0 41% 25% 59%
12 Ithiel Horton G 6-5 Grad Transferred - TBD 34 34 30.9 12.3 3.7 1.6 1.4 0.1 38% 35% 83%
13 C.J. Kelly G 6-5 Graduated 34 26 30.7 13.3 3.6 2.8 1.5 0.6 45% 39% 81%
14 Michael Kalina G 6-1 Returning - Redshirt - - - - - - - - -% -% -%
15 Tyler Hendricks G 6-6 Returning - Redshirt - - - - - - - - -% -% -%
21 C.J. Walker F 6-8 Returning 4 0 19.5 5.0 3.5 0.5 0.8 0.8 37% 33% 50%
24 Charlie May G 6-5 Returning - Redshirt - - - - - - - - -% -% -%
25 Taylor Hendricks F 6-9 Left Early for NBA Draft 34 34 34.7 15.1 7.0 1.4 0.9 1.7 48% 39% 78%
31 Thierno Sylla F 6-11 Returning 27 0 6.2 2.2 1.1 0.1 0.1 0.4 47% 36% 33%

Of the 16 players listed on the final roster last season:

  • Taylor Hendricks left early for the NBA
  • Two players — Michael Durr and C. J. Kelly — graduated and have no eligibility left
  • Three players — Darius Johnson, C. J. Walker and Thierno Sylla — are expected to return to the rotation
  • Six players have entered the portal, none of which landed with a Power Five school (at least as of yet)
  • Of those six outgoing transfers, four are graduate transfers
  • Three players redshirted, including Taylor Hendricks’ brother Tyler
  • Pooh’s legend continues

Remember that C. J. Walker played in only four games last year as he recovered from a foot injury.

To be sure a lot of production is gone. I don’t begrudge Taylor Hendricks one bit — If the Association calls, you go. Durr and Kelly were out of eligibility, and of the six portal guys, four of them got their degrees. The ones that hurt the most are Jayhlon Young, who was a very solid PG off the bench, and Horton, who could have helped with shooting in the coming season (mind you, he could still theoretically return, as he hasn’t enrolled anywhere else yet).

But, as we have said before, Johnny Dawkins is the Master of the Portal, and he and his staff have assembled a cast of newcomers who, if they gel together, might turn some heads in the toughest conference in college basketball.

This Year’s Roster

Let’s take a look at how the roster stands with the latest portal additions:

2023-24 Projected Men’s Basketball Roster

Player Pos Ht Yr Status Previous School (22-23) MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3FG% FT%
Player Pos Ht Yr Status Previous School (22-23) MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3FG% FT%
Ibrahima Diallo C 7-0 5Y Transfer San Jose St. 17.3 6.0 6.0 0.5 0.3 1.7 59% 52% --
C.J. Walker* F 6-8 5Y Returner UCF 25.2 8.3 5.7 0.9 0.9 1.7 48% 58% 37%
Jaykwon Walton G 6-7 5Y Transfer Wichita St. 32.3 13.9 5.3 1.9 0.8 0.3 54% 78% 40%
Shemarri Allen G 6-4 5Y Transfer UMKC 34.7 17.0 5.0 2.7 2.0 0.4 41% 72% 34%
Darius Johnson G 6-1 Jr Returner UCF 30.9 10.0 3.0 4.2 2.2 0.1 39% 86% 27%
Jaylin Sellers G 6-4 Jr Transfer Ball St. 30.0 13.5 3.7 0.8 0.7 0.5 49% 76% 45%
Marchelus Avery F 6-8 Jr Transfer New Mexico St. 18.5 8.2 4.5 0.9 0.5 0.2 47% 63% 42%
Omar Payne F 6-10 5Y Transfer Jacksonville 17.0 4.8 3.2 0.5 0.3 1.0 60% 58% --
Antwann Jones* G 6-6 Sr Transfer Louisiana 8.3 2.1 1.5 1.1 0.0 0.1 40% 29% 43%
Thierno Sylla F 6-11 So Returner UCF 6.2 2.2 1.1 0.1 0.1 0.4 47% 36% 33%
Pooh Warakulnukroh G 5-11 So** Returner UCF 2.0 1.7 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.0 67% 100% 50%
Michael Kalina G 6-1 RFr** Returner UCF - - - - - - -% -% -%
Tyler Hendricks G 6-6 RFr Returner UCF - - - - - - -% -% -%
Charlie May G 6-5 RFr** Returner UCF - - - - - - -% -% -%
Comeh Emuabor F 6-6 Fr Freshman Brewster Academy (Raleigh, NC) - - - - - - -% -% -%
* - Stats from 2021-22 (Player’s last full season) ** - Non-scholarship Player

A couple of quick notes:

Here’s something interesting: The incoming transfers combined for an average of 65.5 points per game in their last full seasons. By contrast, the seven departing players from last year averaged 65.0.

And don’t forget about C.J. Walker, who should be back in full force after missing basically all of last season with a foot injury.

Dawkins’ philosophy with the portal is actually quite simple: Defense always travels, so if you get good defenders, and keep the offense simple, UCF should be able to compete.

That has largely born itself out: UCF was an outlier in terms of close-game heartbreaks, and it’s fairly easy to state that, had Walker been healthy, the Knights may have likely had fewer than the seven losses they incurred in games decided by a basket in regulation.

The roster is still not 100% complete, but at least as of right now, things are taking shape.