The dust has long since settled following a disappointing 2011-2012 campaign for UCF women’s basketball.
This year, an experienced core will hope for a boost from a rookie when the program’s sole freshman, Briahanna Jackson, takes the floor.
“I’ve been waiting a long time to play college ball. … I want to play at a high level,” Jackson said. “I’m just excited to be here finally and enjoy the college atmosphere.”
Jackson, a graduate of Freedom High School in Tampa, spent the year following her 2011 graduation at the IMG Basketball Academy, thriving in a highly competitive atmosphere that many professional basketball players have utilized to perfect their craft.
As a junior in high school, then at Lecanto High School in Lecanto, Fla., Jackson dazzled by averaging 18.6 points and 5.5 steals per game. She did not play basketball her senior season, however, choosing to focus on flag football – where she rushed for 1,023 yards and passed for 1,289 yards and 18 touchdowns.
The year off from the hardwood made the year spent at IMG all the more a smart choice for Jackson. Now she finds herself as part of a program that is looking to re-establish its identity, after winning Conference USA championships in 2009 and 2011 but following up with a disappointing season in 2011-2012.
The Knights underperformed during the last leg of the 2011-2012 season, failing to close out games while being hampered by scoring deficiencies.
Four starters are returning for UCF in head coach Joi Williams’ 10th season. The team’s highest scorer, Aisha Patrick, was the only starting member who graduated and will be a huge role to fill. Senior guard Gevenia Carter will look to become the team’s offensive force, and Meghan Keough and Sarah Green, key backups off the bench, will anchor the reserve squad.
And now there’s Jackson, who, at 5-foot-4, is tied for the shortest player on the team but hopes her impact on the floor will be larger.
“I think I can help open up the lane because I have a good drive game and I can get to the basket usually whenever I want. I’m strong with the ball, [I] can handle it under pressure and I can help them run,” Jackson said. “I didn’t run point in high school, so I’d like to learn how to pass the ball and run the offense.”
Jackson’s best weapons are her quickness and offensive scoring ability. She will most likely play shooting guard behind Carter in her first year.
Despite the fact that the program is coming off a disappointing season, Jackson says she has bought into the culture of the program and the dedication prevalent all around her, noting that “everybody wants to win.”
As a rookie, Jackson just hopes to learn on the fly and assimilate quickly.