OCALA-- College of Central Florida men's basketball team opens up the 2017-18 season on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. when they welcome Victory Rock Prep to Patriot Gym.
CF enters the season ranked No. 6 in the FCSAA preseason polls.
With only three returning, the Patriots will have a different look this season, but head coach Tim Ryan believes there may be something special with this group.
"We are very deep at all positions this year, which is different from last year," said Ryan, who enters his 15th season as the Patriot head coach. "We have a great group of kids...they have something special in how they play together.
"They [the guys] have come together quick...there's some things we need to clean up, but they may have something special going."
Returning players Canberk Kus, Van Turner Jr. and Caleb Carnes will combine with a contingent of Division I transfers and freshmen to try to lead CF to their fourteenth-straight state tournament appearance. This is the longest running record among current Florida junior colleges.
Anderson University transfer Carlos Dotson, a 6'7, 265 pound center, and 6'7 Charleston Southern forward Antwan Maxwell Jr. will add a presence inside the paint for CF this season, while transfer Jerome Merritt (Bradley University) and newcomers Rajan Barnes, and Quenton Jackson look to add a shooting presence on the perimeter.
Freshman Kevin Hunt Jr. and transfer Xzavier Barmore (Liberty University) will split time at the point guard position. They replace Ivan Gandia, the FCSAA single-game assist record holder from a year ago.
Roster depth will play a pivotal role for the Patriots this year as they embark on one of the toughest schedules.
"Our strength of schedule is probably one of the top in the country," said Ryan. "This year will be no different."
The ever-tough Mid-Florida Conference just got tougher this season as NJCAA runner-up Eastern Florida State College moved into the MFC this season. Eastern Florida enters the season ranked second in the state and fifth in the nation.
CF will also travel to Mesa, Arizona this December where they will face some of the top junior college programs in the nation, including NJCAA No. 6 Indian Hills Community College.
"It is going to be another exciting year," said Ryan. "Our goal every day is to get better. As long as we are getting better, these guys will achieve what they're looking for."
CF tips off against Victory Rock prep on Wednesday evening for the first of 17 home games this season. Admission is free to the public for the season opener. First 100 fans will receive a 2017-18 men's basketball calendar.
Click here for a complete 2017-18 schedule.