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Basketball: Freshmen look to find role at UCF

By Jack Eble
On October 27, 2013

After every college basketball season, each team in the country has to deal with the cycling of rosters.

UCF faces the same challenges, as it deals with the departure of star forward Keith Clanton.

However, new faces from different places come in and look to contribute in the place of players no longer on the roster.

Brandon Goodwin, Steven Haney and Justin McBride all face the challenge of being freshmen in the American Athletic Conference.

The transition from high school ball to college ball, is a tough pace to get used to alone, not to mention adding classes and practice times together.

According to the players and head coach Donnie Jones, it seems the players are adjusting well to collegiate life.

Goodwin from Norcross, Ga. played high school basketball for Norcross High School.

The Georgia 6-A Player of the Year, Goodwin led Norcross to the 6-A state title and a record of 27-6 in his senior season.

He averaged 15.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.8 steals in his senior season.

The point guard position is the quarterback on the basketball court because it requires leadership and control.

“Since I’m the point guard, I can come in and lead the team,” Goodwin said.

Goodwin credits his defense as something he can come in and provide at a high level.

“I have really good defense; I can get into a guy and make him upset,” he said.

Defense is always a priority for a team looking to win games, so UCF can expect some solid defense from their freshman point guard Goodwin.

Haney, a Florida product, went to St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale.

The 6-foot-6-inch guard/forward finished his senior season averaging 16 points, six rebounds and three steals per game, earning him a spot on the Florida Class 7A All-State Second Team. He led the St. Thomas Raiders to a 21-5 record last season.

Haney believes he can come off the bench and provide a variety of abilities for the Knights.

“I think I can provide perimeter shooting and just smart play," Haney said. “I think I’m a good passer.”

As for his role this season, Haney reiterated that he will be able to provide his strengths.

“I think it’s just to come in and knock down shots, be productive when I get in, be smart,” he said.

He emphasized making the most of his opportunities and helping the Knights win.

The freshman who was brought in to help build on the void left by Keith Clanton is Justin McBride.

For Bradford High School, McBride, at 6 feet and 10 inches, averaged 20.3 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.4 blocks in his senior season.

He was named to the Gainesville Sun All-Area First Team and the FABC/Sourcehoops Florida Class 4A All-State Third Team last season.

The size and abilities that McBride brings to the table is something UCF looked for this offseason. However, Jones mentioned he has been limited thus far due to an injury he suffered in high school.

Despite the injury, Jones said that McBride has made “great strides,” and his ability to score along with his great size will make him an asset for UCF this season.

As for the future, Jones believes that if these freshmen can keep the same mentality they have shown so far, they have a bright future ahead of them.

“They’re hard workers, they’ve got great attitudes," Jones said. “They’ve been a joy to coach, they love to play, and I think if you have those characteristics, you always have a chance to get better.”

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