UCF’s Brandon Suggs becomes 5th to exit Johnny Dawkins’ team via transfer portal

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A fifth member of the UCF men’s basketball team entered the NCAA transfer portal Thursday.

Senior wing Brandon Suggs became the latest Knight to leave the program, sharing on social media he will use his final year of eligibility elsewhere.

“I want to say thank you for welcoming me and my family with open arms this past year,” said Suggs, who transferred to UCF following three years at East Carolina. “I want to say thank you to the people I’ve met and teammates as well.”

Suggs joins guards Ty Freeman and PJ Edwards as well as forward Lahat Thioune to transfer this week. They all follow guard Jayhlon Young who made his announcement to leave UCF on March 12.

Thioune was one of four Knights to appear in all 34 games this season while making 10 starts. Suggs wasn’t far behind, playing in 32 games with just eight starts.

Freeman mostly came off the bench, too, making just one start in 26 games played. Edwards played the least of the group, seeing the court 19 times with no starts.

Thioune, who reportedly entered the portal Wednesday, is transferring for the second time like Suggs. The 6-foot-10 forward from Senegal spent four seasons at Utah before joining the Knights.

He earned the majority of starts while UCF was without big man Michael Durr due to a left-hand injury. Thioune averaged 2.6 points and 3 rebounds, finishing in double-digit scoring just once.

Freeman, who with Edwards entered the portal Monday, averaged 3.4 points, 1 assist and 2.2 rebounds. The redshirt junior began his career at Indian Hills Community College and played in 54 of 64 games in his two seasons with the Knights.

The number of outgoing transfers shouldn’t come as a surprise. Last offseason, six Knights transferred out of the program.

To rebuild his roster, Dawkins added Young, Suggs, Ithiel Horton, C.J. Kelly, Durr and Thioune via transfer.

Kelly and Durr are out of eligibility. Horton is the lone expected returner.

Four other scholarship players expected to return are guard Darius Johnson, CJ Walker, Thierno Sylla and Tyler Hendricks, the latter the twin brother of NBA-bound Taylor Hendricks. Tyler took a redshirt.

The Knights have three freshmen joining the team later this offseason: Joey Hart, Comeh Emuobor and Petras Padegimas.

That leaves five scholarship spots of the 13 maximum for Johnny Dawkins to rebuild his roster entering the program’s first season in the Big 12 Conference.

“We’ll look at the needs we have to fill,” Dawkins said recently. “Whether it’s interior positions or size, we need some more size. Losing C.J. Kelly, we need a perimeter player of course. Losing Jayhlon, a point guard, [we’re] trying to find someone that can play that position.

“Those are just some of the positions. I’d say bigs, wing-type positions and guards. We’re already hot and heavy and competing in those races right now [for] our program.”

Email Jason Beede at jbeede@orlandosentinel.com or follow him on Twitter at @therealBeede.