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April 14, 2013

Goodwin: 'UCF is where I want to be'

Brandon Goodwin couldn't stop thinking about UCF.

The Norcross (Ga.) guard had a host of suitors, but after this weekend's visit he knew he didn't need to see any other schools.

He committed to head coach Donnie Jones on Sunday afternoon, filling a big need for the Knights as they embark on their inaugural season in the American Athletic Conference.

"This morning when I woke up UCF was all I was thinking about," Goodwin said. "I talked to my mom and said I think this will be a good choice for me. I know I'm not going to regret this. I never wake up thinking about a school. I might wake up thinking about basketball, but not a particular school. I was thinking about what we could do to win and what we can do in the future. I just got really excited."

Goodwin, who was in Orlando from Thursday to Saturday morning, called Jones at around 5 p.m. to inform him of his decision.

"I said, Coach, it's been a long process but I just want to let you know this is where I want to be,'" Goodwin said. "He was really happy of course. I also called coach (Darren) Tillis, the assistant coach. He was real happy. He was saying how much he wanted to catch a flight to celebrate with me. Everybody was just really excited."

He says he couldn't have had a better experience than his two-day visit to Orlando. He really felt a genuine connection with Coach Jones and knew that was the coach he wanted to play for.

"Coach Jones and I sat down and talked for hours," Goodwin said. "It was just so good to be around him. I like all of his values and what he believes in as a person. We talked a lot about family. I told him that's what I'm looking for. He told me how family was his No. 1 priority. He broke down film and why they need me of course, and told me about his past with previous teams, like coaching Joakim Noah at University of Florida. He's a warm-hearted guy, really competitive and preaches family. He has his own kids and family is his No. 1 priority. He's a winner in my book."

He said UCF just felt like home.

"I already knew from the beginning that I was going to like Orlando and UCF, but once I got there it was way better than I expected. I really loved it down there. All my other visits, I liked them, but there was always a negative about them. I didn't have a negative about UCF. It was just amazing. The players are cool. They're competitive. I played pickup with them and they don't like to lose. I like their competitive nature. Also the competitive nature of Coach Jones. It was all really good."

Goodwin said he bonded with the entire team, particularly Tristan Spurlock and Staphon Blair.

"I could get used to feeding them the ball and making plays for them," Goodwin said. "I asked a few of the players about the school and how they liked it. They all gave me positive feedback. Most players will say they don't always like it there, or how the coach will B.S. sometimes, but not at UCF. They seemed really enthusiastic about it. They really like the coaching staff and how they play."

The returning players told him how fired up they were to make a big splash in The American next season. The schedule will be the best in school history with Louisville, UConn, Memphis, Cincinnati and Temple each making visits to the UCF Arena.

"The players told me how they were banned from the postseason this year and that really hurt them, but now they've got a vengeance to come back and show who we are. They want to win badly, I can tell. It's all good."

Goodwin, who won a state championship at Norcross, said his high school coach has compared him to Louisville guard and leading scorer Russ Smith. He can play both guard spots, but UCF is hoping he'll come in and claim the starting point guard position.

"I think I'm known for my speed and how I get to the basket," Goodwin said. "Once I get the ball in transition, I'm gone. If I'm the first person down the court with the ball, nobody can catch me. I'm really good in transition, coming off screens and making plays for my teammates or myself. I can finish really well. I can take contact. I might not be that big, but I can take the contact. If it's not a foul, that ball is definitely going in."

Goodwin also knows what number he'll be wearing next season. He made a pact with his best friend, North Carolina women's basketball signee Diamond DeShields, that they'd both wear the No. 23.

Ole Miss, Auburn, Houston, Western Kentucky and Murray State had been in strong pursuit this spring. USC and Miami recently got in contact and were hoping to have him on an official visit, but Goodwin says he done with recruiting. He plans to sign with UCF on Wednesday, the first day of the spring signing period.

"I just want to make a name for myself and my teammates," Goodwin said. "UCF is a really good football school and basketball isn't really as known there as much as football is, but I want to make it known for both of us, football and basketball. I want to win and make it to the tournament. Do big things for my teammates and big things for myself. I want to make it far."

Goodwin joins Steven Haney, Justin McBride and Eugene McCrory in UCF's 2013 class. Haney and McBride signed last November, and McCrory, who recently was named MVP of the Junior College National Championship, should also sign this week.







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