UCF’s five-point loss to Memphis in the AAC tournament quarterfinals fit the overall theme of the season.

The Knights, who lost 14 games, fell for the 12th time by single digits on Friday night at Dickies Arena.

Coach Johnny Dawkins described the close losses as a tribute to his team’s character and leadership.

“I’ve been involved with a lot of basketball all [of] my life and there are not too many seasons I’ve had — even with really good [teams] that have gone deep in the postseason — that they didn’t have a game or two where they didn’t have it,” he said after the game in Fort Worth, Texas.

“This team, every single night, has given us a chance to win and be successful in games.”

He credited CJ Kelly and Michael Durr, who completed their college careers with UCF’s season likely finished, along with other upperclassmen for their poise.

“Those guys set the tone for how we’re going to be and they did a great job of establishing that with this team,” Dawkins said.

While UCF found itself consistently in competitive matchups, it struggled to find ways to win. Had the team won just half of their single-digit losses, the Knights would be 24-8 overall, presumably heading to the NCAA tournament as an at-large bid.

Instead, the offseason begins for a UCF program that’s moving to one of the top basketball conferences in the country — the Big 12 — and likely doing so without their top player, Taylor Hendricks.

The 6-foot-9 freshman forward is well on his way to becoming UCF’s first “one-and-done” NBA draft prospect.

ESPN draft insider Jonathan Givony projected Hendricks to go No. 14 overall to the Atlanta Hawks in his latest mock draft posted Thursday while listing him as one of 12 prospects “likely playing their last college games.”

While a decision to declare for the June 22 draft still awaits Hendricks, Dawkins discussed what it was like coaching him.

The deadline for early entries to declare is April 23. The NBA Combine is scheduled for the next month in Chicago in conjunction with the May 16 draft lottery to determine the order of the top 14 picks. Early entries have until June 12 to withdraw.

“He was a joy to coach,” Dawkins said of Hendricks. “It’s not been one bad day coaching Taylor and that’s hard when we’re intense in …read more

Source:: The Mercury News


UCF men’s basketball season ends while NBA decision awaits Taylor Hendricks

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