3 UCF bigs carry on-court bond with them under 1 roof

Look out below — or in this case, above.

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Look out below — or in this case, above.

Junior forwards Staphon Blair and Dylan Karell and sophomore center Justin McBride struggle, at times, living in an apartment that was built to house an average-sized person.

The three biggest men on UCF's basketball team are more than 20 feet of man living under one roof. Whether it's bumping their heads maneuvering their 6-foot-9-plus frames through the door, sticking to the two-men-in-the-kitchen rule or curling up in a ball so feet won't hang off the bed, the three roommates have made University House a comfortable place to call home for the year.

The three are all too tall to fit in their beds, but they try to make do with what they have.

"We try to make it as comfortable as possible. We bought some extra padding for the [end of the] mattress," Blair said. "At the end of the day, our feet [are] still gonna be hanging off."

They believe Karell's door is the smallest, but agree that it has made Karell's duck-down a bit better.

"I pay attention where I'm going, but sometimes I get caught," Karell said. "If I'm running out because I'm late for something, I'll just forget and hit it full speed."

When it comes to catching an accidental elbow in the bite-sized kitchen, "Chef Staph," — as McBride has dubbed him — has the most to worry about. The trio said the two-men-in-the-kitchen rule quickly became pretty self-explanatory.

As a Jamaica native, Blair learned to cook from a young age while he was growing up because it's expected where he is from. Instead of becoming the black sheep of the family, he lets his cooking do the talking.

"My first time having brown stew chicken, I was hooked," McBride said. "I beg him to make it all the time."

When they aren't eating together or looking out for each other on and off the court, including early morning knocks on the door to wake up one another for class, the guys like to have a little fun. All three call Karell the jokester of the house.

"If Justin's not looking, I'll just try and put hot sauce on his food," Karell said. "He hates spicy food, and I just love messing with him."

McBride even said that Karrell will go as far as buying jalapeño ketchup and throw away the regular ketchup just to prank him.

And just how domestic are the trio of bigs? McBride joked that one night Blair almost burned down the entire apartment complex while doing laundry.

"He doesn't want to admit it, but I know what really happened," McBride said.

Blair insists that the dryer was broken.

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And as with any normal group of friends, sometimes abnormal things happen that no one will forget. They all agreed that one particular memory stood apart: a late night fire alarm that resulted in police knocking on the trio's door after a random person dropped his pants, exposed himself to a cop and took off running down the hallway.

"Someone took a fire extinguisher and, literally, our hallway is foggy … The cop thought the person came in our room, so they knocked on our room asking us all these questions," Blair said as he started a wide smile that resulted in laughter. "They were like, 'We just saw a guy just walk in[to] y'all's room. He dropped his pants and was shaking it at everyone.' We were just sitting there dying laughing."

The guys were exonerated once the police got a good look at their sizes.

"It was just funny that he [the cop] came to our room, seeing if we did anything, but he looked at all of us like, 'Oh, you guys are huge. You probably didn't do it, I would've noticed,'" Karell said.

The three say the memories they've made, and continue to build, will last a lifetime. They insist that beyond the UCF hardwood, they'll stick together for a lifetime.

"We've got some memories, man. Some lifelong memories," McBride said. "I tell these guys all the time, 'You're gonna be in my wedding.' I just can't let [Blair] plan the bachelor party."


Jarrod Heil is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future. Find him on Twitter@JHeil11.

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