College Basketball Nation: Marcus Jordan

What would UCF’s roster look like?

That was the biggest immediate question following the Aug. 2 NCAA Committee on Infractions report on Central Florida’s wide-ranging infractions, which included the use of a really dumb third-party agent (this guy, if you can believe it). It resulted in severe NCAA penalties, including a one-year ban from the NCAA tournament. Because of the postseason ban, UCF players would receive a one-time transfer reprieve allowing them to move to any school in the country. Without even the possibility of an NCAA tournament bid, would much, if any, of UCF’s roster -- including star forward Keith Clanton and mercurial guard Marcus Jordan -- stick around?

The answer, as UCF announced in release Monday -- and as Clanton tweeted Saturday night -- is both yes and no.



Despite this being his last season in college hoops, and despite having no chance of competing in the sport’s marquee championship, and despite what was surely a large and eager market for his services, Clanton’s loyalty eventually won out. That’s admirable, because it would have been easy to leave. Everyone, UCF fans included, would have understood. But Clanton is standing by coach Donnie Jones and his teammates; sticking around near his family proved to be a more powerful incentive than potential one-year tournament glory. As Andy wrote this morning, that such a decision comes as a surprise probably says more about the nomadic nature of college hoops than it does Keith Clanton.

In the meantime, the loss of Marcus Jordan is a mixed bag. Few UCF players have shown as much potential in the past two seasons. When Jordan was at his best – as he was in a very productive 2010–11 nonconference slate, when UCF opened 14–0 and toppled Florida, Miami and Princeton – he showed the skills to be a major impact player at the Division I level. But Jordan has never really grown into a larger role. He was merely good as a junior.

Perhaps more importantly, Jordan has never seemed all that interested in basketball in the first place. In 2010, his tweets about a massive night out in Las Vegas – when he said he and his brother Jeffrey Jordan spent $35,000 at a Vegas nightclub; Jordan was 19 at the time – caused an investigation at the Nevada Gaming Control Board. In 2011, the Jordan brothers were two of five players held out of an exhibition game for violations of team rules. This offseason, Jordan was arrested in Omaha, Neb. following a disturbance outside a downtown hotel, when “police responding to a call at the Embassy Suites found hotel security trying to subdue Marcus Jordan, who was having an argument with two women in the hotel driveway at 2:11 a.m. … Jordan was ‘very animated, intoxicated and uncooperative,’ and it took multiple officers to control and handcuff him." This was accompanied by widely publicized Internet rumors that Jordan was planning to forgo his senior season at UCF to get a head start on his professional career, whether as a basketball player overseas or in other business ventures. Jordan’s decision, as announced Monday, should come as no surprise.

And he’s not the only player leaving. According to UCF, fellow seniors Josh Crittle and C.J. Reed are also leaving the program; their destinations are as yet unknown.

Still, Jones has to be pleased with the overall roster news. He managed to retain Clanton -- without question his most important player -- as well as contributors Isaiah Sykes and Tristan Spurlock. He also welcomes a batch of transfers to the program, including former Oklahoma player Calvin Newell.

Taken as a whole, it’s not clear UCF will be measurably worse than they were last season, when they finished 22–11 overall and 10–6 in Conference USA play. Given the depths this program was sentenced to by the NCAA less than a month ago – a postseason ban, recruiting restrictions and a free pass for any and all transfers to leave the program is about as close to a “death sentence” as the NCAA gets these days -- Jones and Co. could be, and arguably should be, much worse off.
video
Myron Medcalf discusses the NCAA's postseason ban on Central Florida basketball, and the players (Keith Clanton and Marcus Jordan) who might decide to transfer as a result of the ban.

Conference USA's most important players

July, 25, 2012
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Editor's note: ESPN.com’s Summer Shootaround series catches up on the offseason storylines for each conference. For more on C-USA, click here.

The most important player for each team in the conference ...

East Carolina: Miguel Paul
Paul ran the show in effective fashion for ECU last season, posting a 108.8 offensive rating while leading his team in usage and submitting the ninth-best assist rate in the nation (40.6). He'll be just as crucial in his final season.

Houston: Danuel House
House is the most talented recruit the Houston men's basketball program has landed in a long time. He could have chosen just about any destination for college ball, but he chose to stay in Houston and play for third-year coach James Dickey. House could be a star on a previously irrelevant team from day one.

Marshall: Dennis Tinnon
Marshall didn't miss the NCAA tournament by much last season, but miss the tourney it did. If that changes, it will be in part because Tinnon -- who posted a 120.2 offensive rating and ranked in the top 50 nationally in defensive and offensive rebounding rate -- takes on an even larger share of the offense.

Memphis: Joe Jackson
The lightning-quick Memphis native carries the weight of a city on his back every time he plays. Through his first two seasons, Jackson has often displayed why those childhood expectations started in the first place -- even if it feels like we haven't seen him put it all together just yet.

[+] EnlargeArsalan Kazemi
AP Photo/Erich SchlegelArsalan Kazemi, who plays for Iran's national team, averaged 12.1 points and 10.3 rebounds as a junior last season.
Rice: Arsalan Kazemi
One of the nation's unknown stars is Rice's best player and its most important, a rebounding force who needs to command double-teams to help the Owls improve last season's putrid offense.

SMU: Jalen Jones
Speaking of putrid offense, SMU was awful on that side of the floor in 2011-12. But freshman guard Jones showed plenty of potential along the way.

Southern Miss: Neil Watson
The 5-foot-11 guard was former coach Larry Eustachy's second-most-used offensive option last season, when he shot 37.5 percent from the 3-point line and posted a 30.7 percent assist rate. Both of those figures should improve in 2012.

Tulane: Ricky Tarrant
It has been a tough decade or so for Tulane hoops, but Tarrant, who averaged 14.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists (and efficiently so) as a freshman last season, will give the Green Wave at least one go-to option going forward.

Tulsa: Scottie Haralson
Losing leading scorer Jordan Clarkson to an unflattering (for Tulsa) transfer scenario was a major blow, which is chief among the reasons why Haralson must step up as a senior.

UAB: Preston Purifoy
The Blazers are in rebuilding mode after firing coach Mike Davis, so all personnel bets are off. That means Purifoy, by far the team's most efficient player last season, could get more opportunities to show his skills.

UCF: Marcus Jordan
Keith Clanton is the more obvious pick, but he and Isaiah Sykes form a nice rebounding tandem on the low block. Jordan will have the ball in his hands more often and will have to be far more consistent to live up to the flashes of excellence we've seen in his time at UCF.

UTEP: Julian Washburn
Junior John Bohannon is a known quantity, a solid post man and an active rebounder who converts his opportunities well. Washburn, a 6-7 sophomore, has tons of upside, but he will have to become much more efficient in his second season.
Editor's note: ESPN.com’s Summer Shootaround series catches up on the offseason storylines for each conference. For more on Conference USA, click here.

Five offseason storylines in C-USA ...

1. The end of the Memphis era: And what an era it was. Since 2003, Memphis has won six regular-season titles, six conference tournament titles, made eight NCAA tournaments (including the NCAA-vacated 2008 season, but, you know, whatever) and generally lorded over the rest of the league, only occasionally halting to quench some rebellion or another. Since 2003, when then-coach John Calipari resurrected a proud program from a decade of irrelevance, this has been Conference USA's marquee attraction. After this season, that neon sign will go dark. In 2013-14, the Tigers will complete their conference realignment to the survivalist Big East. The departure is a double-edged sword for the conference. It will open the floodgates for other contenders while almost single-handedly robbing the league of much of its national cachet.

2. Is that … that's Larry Brown's music! Have clipboard, will coach: This is the undying unofficial motto of Larry Brown, who returned to the college ranks to take a job at -- wait for it -- Southern Methodist. Why would one of basketball's historic figures, a Hall of Famer, the only coach to win a national championship and an NBA title, return to the college game?

Blame it on the love. Or blame it on the tidy sum SMU -- which is eager to build a competitive (read: relevant) program before its 2013-14 foray to the Big East -- shelled out for the hire. Details of the contract were not disclosed by the private school, but SMU is spending $40 million on an arena renovation, has built a practice facility and hired Illinois State coach Tim Jankovich (plus a coterie of well-regarded recruiters as assistant coaches) to a coach-in-waiting position when the 71-year-old Brown decides, as he so often does, to leave.

[+] EnlargeDanny Manning
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiDanny Manning arrives at a Tulsa program that hasn't been to the NCAA tournament since 2003.
With a legendary coach, a band of connected assistants, a new practice facility and a newfound enthusiasm, where does SMU go from here? The first season will be a holdover, a transition until the real fun begins in the Big East, but even so, admit it: It's going to be fun to see Brown on a collegiate sideline once more.

3. Danny Manning takes Bill Self's old job: Tulsa's head-coaching position -- which has produced Arkansas legend Nolan Richardson, Kansas coach Bill Self and Minnesota coach Tubby Smith and counts Billy Gillispie, Flip Saunders, Kevin O'Neill, Tom Izzo and Mike Anderson as former assistants -- comes with a certain pedigree and a certain expectation of success. In seven years, former coach Doug Wojcik led the Hurricane to several solid seasons but never quite got over the hump. Replacing him is former Kansas legend and Self assistant Danny Manning, who coincidentally took Jankovich's old job at Kansas and won a national title with Brown at Kansas. Whether Manning can get Tulsa back to the NCAA tournament after a nine-year drought remains to be seen, but for sheer name recognition, it's hard to do better than the guy whose collegiate surname was "and the Miracles."

4. Turmoil at Central Florida: Any day now, the NCAA is going to rule on the case UCF brought in front of the NCAA committee on infractions in April related to Chicago-area "mentor" Ken Caldwell's alleged habit of working with an agent to steer players to UCF and giving those players some $16,000 in benefits along the way. UCF has already self-imposed strict penalties, including three years of probation, the vacancy of men's basketball victories for 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 and reductions in scholarships and recruiting days. UCF coach Donnie Jones also received a three-game suspension. Meanwhile, UCF star Marcus Jordan (son of you-know-whom) was arrested July 1 following a disturbance outside an Omaha, Neb., hotel. It has not been a banner summer for the Knights, that's for sure.

5. Conference tournament relocation: Memphians eager to watch their Tigers go for one more C-USA tournament crown before their Big East defection must have been sorely disappointed by the league's June decision to relocate the conference tournament to Tulsa. Why? Because Memphis is leaving, and the league wanted to punish it, at least symbolically; it did not like the idea of giving the Tigers a conference tourney home-court advantage in their final season of membership. The ticket sales in Tulsa aren't likely to match what Memphis fans would have shelled out, but all's fair in love and realignment.

Amid turmoil, UCF pulls off a stunner

November, 25, 2011
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Central Florida coach Donnie Jones said he was told to stay quiet about the Knights possibly going to the Big East in the future.

Well, he doesn’t have to say much at all anymore. On Friday afternoon, his players did the talking for him at the Battle 4 Atlantis semifinal at Paradise Island in the Bahamas.


The Knights stunned No. 4 Connecticut 68-63 after being down 17 with 16 minutes to go in the second half. UCF has been mentioned for months as a possible addition to the Big East, and if that does indeed happen, the men's basketball team has introduced itself quite well to defending national champion UConn, which saw its 16-game winning streak come to an end in stunning fashion.

“We can’t talk about the Big East, but this is good for our school, absolutely,’’ Jones said by phone from the Atlantis on Friday. “We’re still building our team, but we’re establishing who we are and the identity we want to play. Our guys are a year [older]. They’ve played in this system. Hopefully our two best players will play well -- Marcus Jordan and Keith Clanton -- and they did. The other guys gave great effort, [even though] it may not show up on the stat sheet."

In the second half, the Knights went to a zone defense after made baskets and man-to-man following misses to keep the Huskies off balance. It worked. UConn was 2-of-18 on 3s as star wing Jeremy Lamb made the only two for the Huskies.

“It was very effective,’’ Jordan said. “When we got in the huddle [down 17 at the 16-minute mark], we talked about winning every four-minute scrimmage from media timeout to media timeout. Our attitude was to go out and win every four minutes.’’

Watching the second half, it was hard to believe this was the same team that lost by 23 at Florida State just two weeks ago.

“That game was a lot to do with us, with our attitude,’’ said Jordan, who along with Clanton scored 20 points each. “We went in there, we didn’t make shots, we weren’t playing hard on defense. We dug down since then and made sure we were dedicated to playing defense. It's a great win.’’

As good a vibe as the Knights are feeling Friday in the Bahamas, it’s hard not to consider what occurred last season.

This is the same program that beat Florida on a neutral court last season, started out 14-0 and was ranked a school-high No. 18.

This is the same program that finished last season 21-12, 6-10 in Conference USA. And while they still did get a CBI invite, the Knights were a huge disappointment in league play.

This also is the same program that has been under investigation by the NCAA and the same program that has point guard A.J. Rompza suspended until Dec. 30 for extra benefits.

And Jones is the same coach who, like Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun, will have to sit out the team's first three games of the conference season as a result of violations.

The investigation, the suspension of Rompza and the blowout loss to FSU brought dark days to Central Florida. But the Connecticut win certainly gives a lift to this team regardless of what occurs in Saturday's final against Harvard, which upset Florida State in Friday's second game. At the very least, it will make tracking the Knights the rest of the way that much more intriguing.

“Last year, we had never been there, and a lot of guys weren’t ready to be 14-0 and got complacent,’’ Jordan said. “Everyone thought it would be so easy and we would be an automatic into the NCAA tournament. Now we know how hard it is to get back there and how hard it is to get there. We’ve got the attitude that we still expect to win every game. This was a great win. We’re not paying attention to what is going on outside of basketball.’’

If Friday's game is any indication, the Knights must once again be considered a team that can contend with Memphis and Marshall and possibly Tulsa near the top of Conference USA.

“There is a lot of parity and a lot of good coaches in our league and Memphis will be there,’’ Jones said. “We have to do a good job of continuing to represent our conference well. We know we have to bring it every night.’’

That’s exactly what the Huskies learned in this early portion of the season. UConn is still tinkering with its starting lineup, inserting Andre Drummond over Alex Oriakhi in the middle, which was just a matter of time.

On Friday, Lamb was off. Shabazz Napier wasn’t himself at the point with five assists and seven turnovers. And the Huskies didn’t get much from the role players.

Having Ryan Boatright, a scoring playmaker off the bench, eligible for the first time (after a six-game NCAA suspension for extra benefits) against FSU in the third-place game certainly will help this team.

UConn will be fine. The Huskies will still challenge for the Big East title and a spot in the Final Four. The more relevant question after Friday is: Will UCF be able to remain relevant or fade big time like last season?

"We can build on this [victory]," Jones said, "and we’ll build off of the way we handled last year’s experience.’’

UCF sidelines Michael Jordan's sons

November, 7, 2011
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University of Central Florida guards Marcus Jordan and Jeff Jordan, the sons of Michael Jordan, were among five players held out of Saturday's exhibition game. Junior Marcus Jordan, the team's leading scorer, was suspended with two other players for violations of team rules, according to the school. The school also reported that senior Jeff Jordan and starting point guard A.J. Rompza were withheld pending resolution of NCAA eligibility matters.

"(The suspended players) will continue to practice each day and we'll get better as a team," coach Donnie Jones told the team's website.

The preseason has come in stark contrast to the hot start at the beginning of last season that landed the Knights a spot in the national rankings. But since then, they struggled to a 6-10 record in Conference USA and also were hit with an official notice of inquiry by the NCAA in August regarding potential recruiting violations committed by the football and men's basketball programs. Top recruit Michael Chandler also failed to qualify to become a member of this year's team.

The latest batch of bad news for UCF involves the team's high-profile players both in name and in on-court production. Marcus Jordan, who is trying to make his own name, averaged 15.2 points and led the team in assists as a sophomore. Rompza and P.J. Gaynor, one of the players suspended for team rules violations, were key contributors. Jeff Jordan is eligible this season after transferring from Illinois, as is Oregon transfer Josh Crittle, who was suspended for team rules violations.

It's the eligibility concerns of Jeff Jordan and Rompza that are most intriguing at a time when UCF is already in the process of defending itself in the NCAA case. It was already going to be tough going up against Memphis in Conference USA. If more hurdles emerge, things could get difficult for UCF.

UCF brings in impressive recruiting class

April, 19, 2011
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The University of Central Florida struggled in Conference USA play and settled for the CBI after losing in the first round of the conference tournament this season. The finish was a bit disappointing given all the hype generated by the Knights' 14-0 start and resulting national ranking.

But the future appears to be very, very bright coming off a 21-win season. UCF has the No. 16 recruiting class in the nation according to ESPNU, the best of any team outside the power conferences. Second-year coach Donnie Jones has put together the best class in the program's history, bringing in two top-100 players.

Jones signed 6-foot-10 Michael Chandler, the nation's fifth-ranked center, and also secured a commitment on Monday from 6-foot-5 shooting guard Kevin Ware, who was granted a release from his signed national letter of intent following the departure of Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl.

They're part of a five-player recruiting class that should help bolster a team that returns top scorers Marcus Jordan and Keith Clanton along with point guard A.J. Rompza. The Knights also welcome transfers Josh Crittle (Oregon), Jeff Jordan (Illinois) and Tristan Spurlock (Virginia).

"This team showed some character and I thought we finished pretty strong down the stretch," Jones, whose team went to the CBI semifinals, told the Orlando Sentinel. "We did get some postseason experience and finished with 2 1 wins. We are starting workouts with great energy. We return a group that I’m really excited about because of the steps this team went through. We got ranked in the Top 25 for the first time for close to three weeks or four weeks of our season. We brought some notoriety to the program, people got to see us and we created expectations for what this program can do in the future."
When even the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks are eliminating the reigning Super Bowl Champs in the first round of the playoffs, you know it's been a crazy day.

Such was the case in college hoops Saturday, too. When you play 139 games in one day, there are always going to be wild finishes, unexpected results and upsets. But this was something else entirely. Seven ranked teams lost to unranked teams. To wit:

(There was also a genuine thriller, UConn's 82-81 overtime win at Texas. My postgame analysis on that classic can be found here.)
    [+] EnlargeColorado's Alec Burks
    Ron Chenoy/US PRESSWIREColorado's Alec Burks scored 36 points and had eight rebounds in an upset of Missouri.

  • Colorado 89, No. 8 Missouri 76. It's never easy to win on the road, sure, and you can argue that Colorado is the perfect team (great guards, no big men) to match up with Missouri's guard-heavy style, but considering Mizzou's consistently impressive play to date -- and Colorado's blowout loss to Harvard, among other questionable results -- this still counts as a major upset. Alec Burks played like the future NBA lottery pick he's slated to be, scoring a career-high 36 points on 12-of-19 from the field, 3-for-3 from beyond the arc and 9-of-11 from the free-throw line.
  • West Virginia 65, No. 13 Georgetown 59. According to the AP recap at that link, Bob Huggins has begun giving his players pop quizzes before games, making them come up to the chalkboard and diagram plays to test whether or not they've been paying attention. Apparently, they have. Either that or Georgetown's guards, who played phenomenally in the Hoyas' nonconference schedule, continued their shooting woes from outside. Georgetown's offense is pretty simple: Austin Freeman, Chris Wright and Jason Clark get open looks and make them. At least, that was the case when Georgetown was stacking up nonconference wins against tough opponents (ODU, Missouri, and so on) during November and December. The Big East has been less kind, and Georgetown is now 1-3 in the league with a questionable home loss on its résumé.
  • Penn State 66, No. 19 Michigan State 62. I'm not sure this was a court-storm-worthy effort from Penn State (not that it stopped Nittany Lions fans from basking in the moment), but it certainly fits the day's upset-heavy theme. Penn State guard Talor Battle, who struggled from the field all day, sealed the win with a leaning jumper that put Penn State up by three with 18 seconds remaining. The loss does even greater damage to Michigan State, which was already looking shaky and is now a long shot to win the Big Ten and an even longer shot to get a favorable NCAA tournament seed in March.
  • Oklahoma State 76, No. 17 Kansas State 62. I'm not sure this counts as an upset. After all, Kansas State is still missing forward Curtis Kelly due to suspension, and the Wildcats have struggled to score throughout ... well, now that I think about it, pretty much the entire year. But you get the point: The Wildcats are still in a major swoon, one of those will-they-figure-it-out-in-time rough patches that every program has to confront from time to time. The problem for K-State is that the time to figure this stuff out -- whether we're talking about the team's offense, Jacob Pullen's adjustment to the point guard spot or intangible stuff like leadership -- is starting to run out.
  • Georgia 77, No. 11 Kentucky 70. No offense to the AP -- I'm a huge fan, guys! -- but the use of the word "stun" in the aforelinked headline is a little bit questionable. Georgia, in addition to being at home, is also a pretty good team. The Bulldogs' only two losses this season came in double overtime to Notre Dame and by seven points to Temple all the way back in November at the Old Spice Classic. Otherwise, this Bulldogs squad has been playing just fine, thanks. Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie remain underrated; Thompkins scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, while Leslie put on his trademark dunk show on the way to his 15-and-eight afternoon. Good win for Georgia, but this one is probably about as much of an upset as Kansas State-Oklahoma State. Which is to say, not much of an upset at all.
  • Houston 76, No. 18 UCF 71. It was only a matter of time until UCF -- which came into Saturday having won their last two games (over Princeton and Marshall) in sketchy fashion -- lost. Still, few would have predicted this game being the one that cost the Knights their undefeated record. Without the second-half run that put them within striking distance of the Cougars late, this could have been much worse; Houston led by as many as 17 in the first half. Marcus Jordan, who has become a star in UCF's undefeated run, went 3-for-9 from the field and ended up with 10 points.
  • South Carolina 83, No. 24 Vanderbilt 75. Vandy has been one of the best 10 or 20 defensive teams in the nation thus far this season, but you wouldn't have known it today. South Carolina had four players reach double figures in scoring, including freshman point guard Bruce Ellington, who probably deserves to be considered among the 10 or so best newcomers in the nation. Ellington had 24 points, seven boards and four assists in the win. It's hard to say whether this is a genuine upset on the Michigan State-Penn State side of the spectrum, or just another case of a good team succumbing to a conference opponent on the road i.e. Kentucky and Kansas State, but either way, it's a big win for the Gamecocks.
  • Arkansas 68, Tennessee 65. This is nothing new with the Volunteers, of course. Tennessee seems uniquely capable of beating ranked teams but uniquely unable of getting up for games so-so opponents. Tennessee's last game? A blowout of No. 22 Memphis. Arkansas' last game? A 33-point loss at Texas. Yes, Bruce Pearl was sitting out the first game of his SEC-mandated eight-game league suspension. Still, there's no reason why Tennessee should lose to Arkansas. UT is now 3-0 against ranked teams and 7-5 against unranked teams. Another baffling chapter in the already mind-blowing 2010-11 Vols' story.

Observations from the week that was

December, 20, 2010
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Five observations from this past week:

1. National title favorite? Try favorites. For much of November and December, the Duke Blue Devils were rightfully considered the lone true national title favorite, a steamroller of talent trailed by a handful of solid but flawed, potential contenders. That dynamic has changed. We don't have any new details on the status of Kyrie Irving's toe, but this week Coach K said Irving would be out "for a long time" and that his players were in the process of becoming a "different team." Couple that ominous-sounding diagnosis with the recent performances of teams like Ohio State and Kansas -- two loaded teams with star freshmen of their own -- and it's clear Duke is no longer head and shoulders above the rest of the field.

2. Something's wrong with Kansas State's offense. The Wildcats entered the season ranked No. 3 nationally and riding the kind of optimistic wave that tends to wash aside legitimate personnel concerns. When you have so much, why worry about what's missing? Alas, at this point in the season -- on the heels of a 44-point stinker in a loss to Florida on Saturday -- the Wildcats could be missing former point guard Denis Clemente more than anyone would have imagined. K-State has a couple of offensive issues to deal with. One is Jacob Pullen's shooting. The other is free throw rate. Last season, Kansas State had the fourth-highest free throw rate in the country. This season, the Wildcats are ranked No. 108 in the country in the stat. It's hard to tease out how much of this is a function of Clemente's absence -- certainly Pullen got more open looks from 3-point range with Clemente pushing the pace and getting into the lane -- and how much is just a slow start by Frank Martin's team thus far. One way or the other, though, the Wildcats have to find a way to get to the line more often. Until they do, that preseason optimism will continue to wane.

3. Michigan will stay out of the Big Ten cellar. The Wolverines aren’t exactly setting the world ablaze, but they’re significantly better than the doom and gloom that preceded this season. On Saturday, the Wolverines thoroughly handled the same Oakland team that took Michigan State to the wire and upset Tennessee last week. Michigan’s only other “quality” win came at Clemson, but no matter: It’s clear from their performance so far that the Wolverines will be plenty competitive in the middle of the Big Ten this season. Michigan’s offense isn’t great, but the defense is the 17th-best in the country, according to Pomeroy, and sophomore guard Darius Morris boasts the second-best assist rate in the country (48.4 percent). Michigan’s best-case might be a No. 7 spot in the Big Ten and a fringe bubble case by season’s end, but whatever. Compared to where this program seemed to be this offseason, as long as Michigan isn’t fending off Iowa, Indiana and Penn State for last-place Big Ten honors, everything else is gravy.

4. Central Florida is an NCAA tournament team. If the tournament started today, you’d have to include UCF in your tournament bracket. The Knights can claim dominion over the Sunshine State after wins over South Florida, Florida and Miami, the last of which came Saturday in Sunshine, Fla. The UF win looks especially impressive after the Gators’ win over Kansas State later at the Orange Bowl Classic. And now that UCF is past those in-state tests, and has few likely nonconference challenges left before league play begins, it can focus on what now looks like a totally realistic Conference USA title campaign. Before this season, the Knights were interesting only because they had the spawn of Michael Jordan on their team. Thanks in large part to the play of Marcus Jordan, this team is worth your attention for competitive reasons, too.

5. Kendall Marshall needs more minutes. Point guard play was one of the main contributors to North Carolina's troubles last season. It has reared its ugly head in 2010-11, too. Only this season, Roy Williams has a ready-made remedy on his bench. That remedy’s name is Marshall, who was brilliant in limited action in the Tar Heels’ loss to Texas Saturday. He has an intuitive feel for the game, can penetrate against the quickest of defenders, and finds UNC’s lanky big men better than either Dexter Strickland or Larry Drew II. (Marshall’s 41.8 percent assist rate would place him among the top 15 in the stat nationally if he had enough possessions to qualify for Pomeroy’s list.) Strickland and Drew II have improved, but Marshall is the driver Williams’ up-tempo offense needs. Now all Roy has to do is give him the keys.

Week in Review: The Big Ten prevails

December, 3, 2010
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As we get set for a hoops-filled weekend, here's a linky look back on the week that was at the College Basketball Nation blog:

Marcus Jordan, budding star?

December, 2, 2010
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Before Wednesday night, Michael Jordan's sons -- Jeffrey and Marcus -- have been known less for their basketball ability than their ties to their father and their occasional forays into the world of the unwise tweet. The latest example came this offseason, when Marcus got into hot water for tweeting that he and his brother had spent "$35k" at a posh Las Vegas Nightclub; Marcus, being under the legal drinking age, should probably not have been in a nightclub in the first place.

Anyway, the Jordan brothers have to this point been seen as solid but not great college basketball players. Jeffrey was a defense-oriented walk-on guard at Illinois; Marcus, a more highly touted recruit, took his talents to UCF. Neither are likely to reach the heights their father scaled.

Still, for one night, Marcus Jordan showed the bloodlines in fine form, and believe it or not, he's creating a real buzz around Central Florida basketball. True story! UCF upset Florida 57-54 in the Florida Citrus Sports Shootout at the Amway Center Wednesday night, and the fans are taking to their newfound star in a way you might not expect from a building program like UCF. From the Orlando Sentinel:
You're not going to get anyone within the UCF basketball program to come right out and say this is Marcus Jordan's basketball team. But Wednesday night at the Amway Center, it sure felt like it.

The crowd swayed as Jordan swayed. They fell to the floor, groaning each time Jordan did. And when he scored, the roar was louder than it was for any other player. Marcus Jordan has arrived at UCF.

Jordan even had a singular Jordanesque moment, one that made "SportsCenter" and -- yes -- looked all too similar to his father's famous double-clutch move against the Lakers in the 1991 Finals. Marcus caught the ball at the top of the key, crossed two defenders, leapt, felt Vernon Macklin behind him, switched the ball to his left hand in mid-air and finished the layup in grand style. There are a handful of college basketball players that could have finished that play. Apparently, Marcus Jordan is one of them.

Gaming board probing Marcus Jordan

August, 30, 2010
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The $35,000 Marcus Jordan tweet refuses to go away.

Last week, UCF sophomore Marcus Jordan apologized for posting a tweet that said he and his brother Jeffrey had a "stupid" night at Haze, a Las Vegas nightclub, where Jordan said they spent "35k." It was a silly mistake -- Jordan is 19, and thus isn't allowed to spend any amount of money in a Las Vegas club. Nor should he have been publicizing his family's excess, because that's just kind of lame.

But it turns out the tweet could be more serious than a mere nish-nish from Michael and Juanita Jordan. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Vegas Confidential column, the Nevada Gaming Control Board is now investigating the matter. At issue, of course, is whether the underage Jordan was drinking and gambling:
The Nevada Gaming Control Board on Friday confirmed it is involved. At issue is whether Marcus Jordan, 19, was drinking alcohol or gambling. Gaming Control board member Randall Sayre said MGM Resorts International is in the early stages of an inquiry to see "where the system broke down."

Sayre said the board was quickly informed of the matter by MGM, the parent company of CityCenter.

Whether or not that inquiry will yield any consequences for Marcus Jordan is unclear. But it is another reminder that tweeting your activities -- especially when those activities are illegal, and especially when you're the newsworthy son of basketball's greatest and most famous player ever -- is not a particularly wise idea.
Somebody is going to see it. That's the first rule of Twitter -- if you're a celebrity (or even just a regular dude) and you post something offensive, questionable or otherwise noteworthy, even if you only intend for your friends and followers to read it, it will become a thing. Tweet accordingly.

UCF sophomore Marcus Jordan -- son of Michael Jordan, naturally -- learned that lesson this week, when he told his Twitter followers that his time at Haze Nightclub in Las Vegas was "stupid" because he spent "35k." Marcus, being under 21, should probably not have been in a nightclub in the first place. Nor is it particularly polite to flaunt your wealth in public. Best to leave that to the "Real Housewives of OH MY GOD TURN THIS SHOW OFF NOW." Ahem.

Anyway, a few days later, Marcus has acknowledged the tweet was a mistake, and older brother Jeffrey says he's used to doing "damage control" when Marcus gets a little too outgoing for his own good. His parents weren't too pleased, either. From Fox's Jeff Goodman:
"I didn’t mean it the way it came across," Marcus Jordan said. "My family and friends know the type of person I am."

However, the tweet did prompt a phone call from both Michael Jordan and his ex-wife, Juanita.

"I had conversations with both my parents," Marcus said.

As for his allowance?

"I’m still good," he laughed.

If there weren't thousands of dollars and a mega-famous basketball legend involved, this would sound a lot like my own family dynamic. My brother always got away with everything. Celebrities: They're just like us!
Lest we forget, the University of Central Florida has a rather interesting situation on its hands in 2010-11. Thanks to Jeff Jordan's transfer this offseason, UCF fans will get to watch both of Michael Jordan's offspring -- Jeff and Marcus -- play for their team. Neither is an elite player. Jeff was a one-time walk-on and defensive specialist at Illinois, while Marcus averaged 8.0 points per game at UCF as a freshman. But still, if only for public relations purposes, having both sons of the greatest basketball player at your program is undeniably unique. And, in its own way, pretty cool.

Then again, UCF would probably prefer the Jordan boys take the celebratory tweeting down a notch. According to the Chicago Tribune, Marcus and Jeff spent the weekend with their dad in Las Vegas, where the elder Jordan was hosting his ultra-expensive fantasy basketball camp. And, as you'd expect, they had fun doing so. From a since-deleted tweet by Marcus Jordan:
"Last night was stupid," Marcus Jordan wrote on his Twitter account. "… 35k at Haze… Totals 50k something the whole day.. Damn!! Going to the pool again today.. Gotta relax!"

"Haze" is Haze Nightclub and Liquid Pool Lounge, which, at least from photos, seems about as swanky and Vegas-y as you'd imagine. According to the site, Haze "a cutting-edge space in where [sic] guests will be challenged to question their sense of perception and reality." Oh, night clubs. Somehow, you always get more ridiculous.

So why is this news? Mostly because Marcus Jordan is not yet 21 years old, which means he probably shouldn't be having his perceptions challenged in a Las Vegas nightclub. Nor should he have been so conspicuous with his Vegas excess. Everyone already knows Michael Jordan loves to tear it up in Sin City, but that's probably not an image he -- or UCF, frankly -- will want his sons associated with.

It's not a huge deal. This is the last place you'll hear moralizing about Vegas excess and unwise bar expenditures, because hey, we've all been there (relatively speaking, of course). Nor is it a huge shock to know that somewhere, someone under 21 was in a nightclub, and that person's last name happened to be Jordan. Oh well, right?

But as the season rolls around and the boys get ready for practice to begin, it's probably best to focus on hoops and keep the Vegas debauchery out of the public eye. As with basketball, I'd imagine Marcus and Jeffrey's dad can probably offer some advice on that topic, too.
Central Florida? Where? Why?

Those are the three questions most asked of Michael Jordan's youngest son, Marcus Jordan, when the No. 59-ranked shooting guard in the class of 2009 decided to play his college basketball as a UCF Knight last year. The answers were simple, actually: UCF was a place Jordan could step in right away and play plenty of minutes, as opposed to using his name recognition to get a spot at a larger school where he wouldn't play as much and wouldn't have the chance to build gaudy stats in the early part of his college career.

Marcus' older brother Jeffrey took a different tact when he first chose his college, playing as a walk-on at Illinois. Jeff Jordan eventually earned a scholarship, quit the team last summer, came back for the 2009-10 season, and then decided to leave Illinois altogether last week.

Guess where he's going to transfer? Yep: Central Florida. You could ask the same questions -- why Central Florida? -- of Jeffrey, but they're even simpler to explain than during Marcus' decision period. His brother's already there. Apparently, he likes the school. Yadda, yadda, yadda, Jeffrey Jordan's a UCF Knight. That easy.

Jeffrey will play his final year of college eligibility as a walk-on. His brother will be a sophomore. According to my calculations, that means the UCF Knights will have the two spawn of the single greatest basketball player of all-time playing for them at the same time. This sounds more awesome than it actually is, of course -- neither Jeffrey nor Marcus has shown much in the way of being an impact player at the college level -- but still, if you're a UCF fan, that's kind of awesome, right?

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