It's one thing to enjoy playing sports with your friends. But it's a whole different feeling to be able to play with your family. At least, that's what the UCF men's basketball team would say about this upcoming season.
The Knights lost starters Tristan Spurlock, Calvin Newell and Isaiah Sykes from last season's squad. But despite how a change that big might seem, the team said the chemistry isn't lacking at all. In fact, sophomore center Justin McBride said it's better than ever.
"Honestly, this is the closest I've felt to my teammates since I've been playing basketball. We have this family atmosphere going on right now and it's amazing," McBride said.
With only two of the 15 players on the roster being seniors, the majority of this group, and its chemistry, will be together for at least another year. The family-feel of the team doesn't stop with the returning players, either. Freshman guard BJ Taylor said he already feels how the team has come together.
"We've got great team chemistry," Taylor said. "We don't have too many egos [or] too much selfishness, so that helps a lot when trying to help a team come together."
Senior Kasey Wilson is a returning starter and will be stepping into a leadership role this season. Wilson has been at UCF for four years and has seen several different types of squads come through. He said there is definitely one thing that's different about this bunch.
"Just as a whole we have more unity," Wilson said. "The amount of togetherness we have, we really enjoy all of us being around each other. We've got a lot of funny guys so I think with just the amount of how much we like each other, I think that'll really just help us through the season, [to] build on what we have now and what we're going to have in two months."
Close-knit groups normally joke around with each other often, and by his standards, Wilson named one guy in particular as the funniest on the team.
"We've got a lot of funny bigs. I'm going to take Staph," Wilson said. "He's a clown."
Junior forward Staphon Blair led the team in blocks last season with 47. He aims to reach 60 this season and also step up as a leader on the team. And although he may have won Wilson's vote for the funniest, as with a real family, everyone doesn't always agree.
"I don't know why he chose him," Taylor said. "We've got one dude named Adonys Henriquez. He's probably the funniest guy in the world."
Henriquez, a freshman guard from Orlando, said the support at UCF helped make his decision to play for the team a lot easier. He said that although this group isn't the 2013 team, its unity is what will keep it going.
"Every guy is just playing for somebody else and not playing for himself, so when you play for somebody else you play harder," Henriquez said.