UCF head coach Donnie Jones has led the Knights to three straight 20-win seasons since arriving at the school in 2010, most recently posting a record of 20-11 (9-7 Conference USA) while saddled with a one-year postseason ban.
Jones’ reward: a contract extension through 2018 according to the Orlando Sentinel. Jones originally had two years remaining on his original contact.
Terms have yet to be released, but the move shows the administration’s willingness to allow Jones and his staff to lead the UCF program into the American Athletic Conference. In addition to the postseason ban that came as a result of NCAA violations Jones was hit with a three-year show cause penalty.
The Knights return the majority of their key contributors from last year’s 20-win team and hope to have an impact in their debut season, but they’ll have to account for the graduation of forward Keith Clanton.
The versatile Isaiah Sykes (he led the team in points, steals and assists), forward Tristan Spurlock and guard Calvin Newell Jr. are three of the players expected to lead UCF in 2013-14. UCF will also enjoy the luxury of having some depth at point guard, which was not the case in 2012-13.
Incoming freshman Brandon Goodwin joins sophomore Daiquan Walker at the position, while both Newell Jr. and Sykes have the ability to create for teammates as well.
While 2013-14 is certainly an important year for UCF basketball when it comes to how they adjust to the new conference, it’s also important in regards to building a program that can consistently contend in the American.
Cincinnati, UConn and Memphis are expected to be the standard-bearers for the American (Temple should also factor into the equation), but the departure of Louisville opens the door for another program to join that group.
Can Jones take UCF to that level? With a new contract in tow, he’ll be expected to do just that.
Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.