Justin McBride gets little reminders every day he is the big man on UCF's campus.

His feet hang over the full-size bed in his dorm room, he has to duck slightly to walk through the basketball team locker room door, an ever-growing list of people stop him on his way to class. The big man from a small Central Florida town is accustomed to it all.

McBride, the Knights' 6-foot-10, 330-pound freshman center, is used to being the biggest kid in the room. He navigated teasing from peers as a youngster and learned to deal with the questions from adults as he towered over his classmates. He passed his father in stature by middle school and shattered a backboard in the 10th grade.

At some point, McBride came to embrace it all.

"When you're a kid, you're like, 'Why ain't I like everybody else? Why can't I be small?'" said McBride, his massive hands tugging on a black UCF practice jersey in size 3XLT. "Then you kind of grow into it and you mature and you learn to love it because it makes you different. … My mom used to say, 'It's alright to be different. It's cool to be different.' And now I'm huge and being different is paying off."

McBride smiled. His toothy grin seems even larger than his mammoth frame. The smile is what sticks out most to McBride's former high school coach, Traavis Chandler. It is why UCF coach Donnie Jones calls the freshman a "gentle giant" and the reason kids flock to McBride. The big man is majoring in early childhood education, bound for a career as a living, breathing jungle gym.

McBride's other potential career is what has UCF fans excited.

Since returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered last spring, the Starke, Fla., native has been impressive on the court for the Knights (10-13, 2-10 AAC). When the freshman saw his playing time jump from 3.25 to 14.3 minutes per game last week, he truly started to make an impact. McBride has averaged 10.7 points and 5.0 rebounds during the past three games, shooting 76.5 percent from the field. He has become a fan favorite thanks to his size and ability to change the game.

"It's just hard work, hard work and perseverance," McBride said after scoring 13 points against UConn. "If it wasn't for my teammates I would have given up a long time ago. They were there the point where I wanted to give up, the point where I was hurting, the point where I felt like I wanted to, but my body wouldn't let me. They literally pushed me. They wouldn't let me give up because they knew I had this in me. If it wasn't for my teammates I wouldn't even be half the player I am now."

The break-out performance helped McBride earn American Athletic Conference rookie of the week honors, and he will look to continue that success when UCF hosts No. 7 Cincinnati (23-3, 12-1) on Wednesday night at CFE Arena. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and the game will air on ESPNU.

"He missed the whole summer, missed the whole fall and Jan. 4th was the first day he even walked out on the floor to be able to practice," Jones said. "So you're talking about a guy that's been out here four weeks. … It's all just flat-out talent for him."

McBride has been forced to adapt quickly all his life, with his body constantly changing.

Justin McBride's mother, LaTanya McBride, learned to expect the growth spurts during the summer.

Growing pains in Justin McBride's arms and legs meant it was time to go shopping for new clothes. The suits for church had to be tailor made, and the size 18 shoes special-ordered online. She was accustomed to leaving food out to satisfy Justin McBride's cravings every couple hours, though that has changed now that he is on a strict diet to get down to a more manageable playing weight.

Justin McBride's size comes from his mother's side of the family. LaTanya McBride is 6 feet tall, and her father and brother are over 6-foot-3. Justin McBride's father, Dewayne McBride, is 5-foot-9.

When Justin McBride had an MRI to diagnose his torn ACL last spring, he was told his growth plates were still open. After watching her son duck through seven-foot high doorways in his home, LaTanya McBride is convinced he is closer to 7 feet tall.

While he was always a fast grower, however, Justin McBride was a late-bloomer on the court.

LaTanya McBride did not allow her youngest son to play sports until middle school. Some things came naturally. He had soft hands and good feet, a rarity for someone his size, and developed a natural touch around the basket.

Going into his junior year in high school, McBride devoted himself completely to the sport. That drive was motivated partly by a dunk during a summer league basketball game that shattered the backboard and has drawn nearly 14,000 views on YouTube.