(CLICK HERE to follow along with who is turning pro and who is returning to school.)
With Keith Clanton graduating the UCF program had one major hole to address in the off-season before it begins play in the American Athletic Conference next season.
But with the school announcing on Thursday that junior guard Isaiah Sykes has decided to go through the NBA Draft process there’s a chance that the Knights may have to take on new opponents such as Cincinnati, UConn and Temple without its most talented player.
“This is a great opportunity for Isaiah and we support his decision,” UCF head coach Donnie Jones said in the statement. “He will be able to learn more about what NBA executives think about his game and we will be there to help him gather information throughout the process.”
Sykes submitted his information to the NBA undergraduate advisory committee, and according to the school he will not hire an agent. Per NCAA rules an underclassman has until April 16 to withdraw from the draft.
Sykes, a 6-5 guard from Detroit, started all 31 games in 2012-13 and posted averages of 16.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.3 steals per contest. Sykes tallied two triple-doubles on the season, becoming the first player in the history of Conference USA to post multiple triple-doubles in the same campaign.
For his efforts Sykes was a first team All-Conference USA selection, and he was also named to the league’s All-Defensive Team.
“Playing in the NBA has always been a dream of mine and I am excited to be able to learn more about my draft stock,” Sykes said in the statement. “I am looking forward to going through the process and I appreciate Coach Jones and the entire staff helping me.”
Draft Express ranks Sykes 60th among NCAA juniors and NBADraft.net ranks him 33rd among that class.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
GAME OF THE DAY: No. 3 Michigan State vs. Providence, 9:00 p.m. (ESPN2)
Two Player of the Year candidates lock horns on Sunday night as Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine battles Providence’s Kris Dunn. Both players are strong threats to record a triple-double each time they take the floor and both are key reasons why their teams are 6-0. The Friars could probably use this game a bit more than Michigan State since they enter this game unranked and could use another confidence-boosting win for a team filled with newer players. As for the Spartans, winning the Wooden Legacy would mean another great accomplishment before December even started for a team that has national title aspirations.
THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: No. 23 Xavier vs. Dayton, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
These two 6-0 teams from Ohio will meet in Orlando in the championship game of the AdvoCare Invitational. The Musketeers have six different players averaging at least 9.7 points per game this season as they’ve received great balance on the offensive end. As for Dayton, Charles Cooke as emerged as a go-to player early this season while guard Scoochie Smith has also been outstanding. This will be the first time these two schools have played since Feb. 16, 2013.
SIX THINGS TO WATCH FOR
- One of the fun teams to watch this week has been Monmouth and their amusing end-of-bench antics. On the floor, the Hawks knocked off Notre Dame and gave Dayton a scare and they’ll face USC for the second time this season to close out the AdvoCare Invitational. The Trojans won the first one 101-90, but this is a 12:30 p.m. EST tip, so that could benefit Monmouth the second time around.
- Wisconsin visiting No. 7 Oklahoma is an intriguing Sunday matchup. The Badgers could certainly use a true road win here as they’re off to a 4-2 start. The Sooners get more of a real test after only playing Memphis as a notable opponent their first three games.
- Also going on in the AdvoCare Invitational is No. 20 Wichita State facing Iowa and No. 17 Notre Dame battling Alabama. The Shockers are going without senior starters Fred Van Vleet and Anton Grady as they try to escape Orlando with a win. Notre Dame is hoping to close out the event strong after its surprising upset to Monmouth.
- Action also continues in Anaheim at the Wooden Legacy as No. 11 Arizona will take on Boise State, while Boston College plays Santa Clara and UC Irvine faces Evansville. Arizona will look to get back on the right track after the close loss to Providence in the semifinals.
- No. 6 Duke gets an afternoon tilt with Utah State at home before they face Indiana during the week. It’ll be interesting to see if Blue Devil freshman wing Brandon Ingram keeps his strong play going from earlier in the week.
- UCLA returns home and could badly use a win against Cal State Northridge. The Bruins went a disappointing 1-2 in the Maui Invitational and need to get back on the right track before the face No. 1 Kentucky next week.
TOP 25 GAMES
- Brown vs. No. 25 SMU, 2:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
OTHER NOTABLE GAMES
- Jackson State at Marquette, 12:30 p.m.
- Rider at Rhode Island, 1:00 p.m.
- Savannah State at South Florida, 1:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
- South Carolina State at Kansas State, 2:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
- Northern Colorado at Colorado, 2:00 p.m. (PAC12)
- UC Santa Barbara at Arizona State, 4:00 p.m. (PAC12)
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics