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April 16, 2013

Video: Sykes puts NBA on hold

UCF guard Isaiah Sykes explored the possibility of putting his name in for the NBA Draft, but officially announced Tuesday that he will return for his senior season.

The Detroit native believes he can improve his draft stock with another year in college, plus he wants to help the Knights make a splash in their first year as a member of the American Athletic Conference.

"I got a great self-evaluation with the NBA," Sykes said. "I know and coaches know where I stand within the draft. I felt I wanted to come back and play with my teammates because of that we have. It's a great bond and I want to finish my senior year strong."

Sykes averaged 16.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.3 steals on his way to All-Conference USA First Team honors this past season.

He had initially declared for the NBA Draft on April 4, but always had the option to reverse course since he did not hire an agent. He says the feedback he received was positive.

"Some teams were interested and some teams said it would be best to stay my senior year so I can go higher," Sykes said. "It was a positive thing for me. I was glad to experience it."

Sykes is set to receive plenty of exposure as UCF makes the move into the American Athletic Conference next season. The league, featuring basketball powers such as Louisville, UConn, Memphis, Cincinnati and Temple, has an exclusive television contract with ESPN.

"It will be a great opportunity not just for me, but for our basketball program," Sykes said. "It's a tough schedule and better competition. It will be a challenge for our team."

He's also excited to get a crack at Louisville, who recently finished their impressive season with a national championship. The American is expected to play an 18-game round-robin schedule, which means they'd face every opponent home and away.

"I wanted Michigan to win (the national championship game) because I'm from Michigan, but I'm glad Louisville won," Sykes said. "I'm definitely looking forward to playing next year as they're defending their title."

Sykes, who said he'd be working this offseason on things like improving his jumpshot, says his primary goals revolve around the team and not anything individually.

"My personal goal is just to win," Sykes said. "We want to make it to the NCAA Tournament and try to win a championship. Go out and give it our all. Hopefully get that crowd back we're used to having. It should be an exciting season."



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