Young guns — that can describe freshman guards Adonys Henriquez and B.J. Taylor due to their long-range shooting skills thus far this season. From beyond the arc, the two have been letting it fly in their first season suiting up for the black and gold.
Henriquez sits at No. 2 in the American Athletic Conference in three-point shooting and Taylor isn't too far behind at No. 3 with both of them shooting almost 45 percent from downtown. The two guards, along with Daquain Walker, are integral pieces of UCF's spot at the top of the three-point shooting percentage leaderboard as a team. The Knights currently lead the AAC in three-point shooting percentage at more than 38 percent.
Being efficient from deep is a big help to this squad. On Wednesday night, the Knights sent a game against the Houston Cougars into overtime off of a three-pointer and ultimately won the contest in overtime by a buzzer-beating three pointer.
"It's great to come in and have an impact this early on in the program, especially because me and Adonys work hard, so it's good to see that hard work pay off," Taylor said. "[There is] a lot of practice in the offseason [and] a lot of practice in season that goes into it."
The work doesn't stop on the court either. Henriquez studies the game beyond the film room. He watches NBA games as a student, analyzing the positioning of players, noting their styles while trying to soak up as much as he can.
"I look up good shooters, and I look at their videos all day, like how [players such as] Klay Thompson get their shots off," Henriquez said. "[I like to] watch them play live."
They may watch to learn, but then they play to perfect. Taylor attributes the things fans don't see to their high level of skill on the court.
"People don't see a lot of shots in the offseason, a lot of hours in the gym that me and him [Henriquez] put in together," Taylor said. "There's a lot of preparation."
The two Orlando natives try to make the most of that preparation. During practice, they run drills to try to prepare for possible real in-game situations. They mock tough circumstances so their nerves might feel a little more at ease when plays in practice become reality in the game.
"[We act like] we're down [by] six and we need to come down and hit a couple threes," Henriquez said. "[We practice] pressure threes. We just take turns with maybe 20 seconds; see how many you can make."
With their three-point shooting on par, and just under half of their shots taken from beyond the arc finding room through the hoop, Henriquez and Taylor have impressed head coach Donnie Jones enough in their first year under him, which allows them to let the ball fly whenever they feel necessary.
"[Jones] gives us the green light to shoot," Henriquez said. "He just says, 'If you're open, your feet are set, just shoot."
Jarrod Heil is a is a senior staff writer for the Central Florida Future. Find him on Twitter @JHeil11.