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April 18, 2012UCF will add some serious size to their front court when they begin BIG EAST play in 2013-14.
Justin McBride, a 6-foot-10, 340-pound center from Starke (Fla.) Bradford, pledged to the Knights on Wednesday after receiving a scholarship offer from Donnie Jones.
Bradford coach Traavis Chandler says UCF is getting a special talent with a very large upside.
"He's humongous," Chandler said. "He's 6-10 and about 340 pounds right now. He's got great strength, great skill and has all the things you can't teach. Great hands, great feet, great player and a great overall kid. He's a 'yes sir, no sir,' player. He comes from a great family. Just a heck of a basketball player."
Chandler says McBride averaged 17 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks per game as a junior.
"We're looking for him to have a big senior year," Chandler said. "I think UCF is getting a great player."
UCF has had their eye on Chandler for quite some time, but what may have piqued their interest is a game he played in Orlando this past season against 2012 signee Matt Williams.
"We played Jones and I think Justin might have had about 20 points and 13 boards in that game," Chandler said. "He kind of turned some heads and things took off from there. (Jones guard and UCF signee) Matt (Williams) really likes him as well."
The Knights' recruitment became even more serious after McBride and his NIKE Team Florida teammates took an unofficial visit to campus this past weekend.
"Justin really liked what he saw," Chandler said. "He loves the direction UCF is going. He loves the location. Orlando is maybe an hour and a half away from here. He felt very at-ease with the coaching staff. Very comfortable. With that said, he has family in Orlando. He was impressed with the campus. The facilities are new. All of that played a factor. UCF was one of the first teams to express some strong heat. That played a big part as well."
McBride, who is 17 years old, could possibly grow even taller. Chandler says people often compare him to legendary center Shaquille O'Neal.
"He's not as tall as Shaq, but they compare him to Shaq as far as size," Chandler said. "He had a game last summer, it's on Youtube, where he shattered a backboard. With the proper training, which I know he'll get, he'll get more chiseled up."
Chandler said they're in the continuing process of training McBride to be in the best physical shape.
"Right now the biggest thing is getting him in top conditioning," Chandler said. "That's one of the major things, but something we can control. Other than that, he can really play. Once he gets his conditioning down, he can put down some crazy numbers. He had a game last season where he had 36 points, 17 rebounds and 10 blocks. Once he gets where he wants to be conditioning wise, he can be a very special player."
They'd like to see him drop 40 pounds to get to the 300 range by the beginning of his senior season.
"When he does that I think he'll be running faster, jumping higher and just feeling a whole lot better," Chandler said. "Right now he's on pace to do that."
Miami, Georgia State, Jacksonville and South Alabama were also in the mix, but Chandler says McBride had been favoring UCF so when the offer came on Wednesday he didn't need much time to decide.
"Justin talked it over with his family, with me and then called Coach Jones over the phone," Chandler said. "He was very excited and kind of relieved. Now he can focus on working hard his senior year of high school, winning the state championship and then coming to UCF and helping them win big."
McBride joins Cleveland (Tenn.) guard D.J. Bowles in the Knights' 2013 recruiting class.