Michael Jordan's son to UI
CHAMPAIGN – As famous sons go, there may not be a precedent for Jeffrey Jordan.
Mainly because there has never been anyone like his father.
Jordan, a senior guard at Loyola Academy and Michael's son, said this morning he will attend and play basketball at Illinois.
The 6-foot-2 prep standout said in a prepared statement he will be a preferred walk-on with the Illini, meaning he won't be on scholarship but is assured a roster spot.
"I look forward to receiving a great education at Illinois, and I also look forward to proving that I can play and compete at the Big Ten level," said Jordan, who tabbed the UI over a scholarship offer from Valparaiso.
Jordan won't sign a letter of intent and his commitment will be non-binding. The prep standout is expected to enroll for summer session at Illinois. Classes begin June 11.
Other famous sons have followed a similar path, their names forever tied to the phrase, "the son of."
D.J. Strawberry, son of former major league baseball star Darryl Strawberry, completed a decorated basketball career at the University of Maryland in March. Maryland coach Gary Williams said the younger Strawberry faced an inordinate number of hassles, from incessant media interviews to hecklers in opposing crowds.
"I think you owe it to the player to recruit him, to coach him just like anyone else," Williams said Thursday. "Just because D.J.'s dad was famous, he has a life to live, too. Hopefully we treated D.J. just like all of our other players.
"He was really tough the whole four years," Williams said. "The thing is with those players, like Jordan's son and Darryl's son, there are a lot of people that say terrible things to them on the road. You can't do anything about that. D.J. said he dealt with that in high school and that helped him in some of the tougher environments we had to play in."
Jeffrey Jordan averaged about 14 points a game as a senior and is considered a late-blooming college prospect. His recruitment has heated up in recent months, and he made a visit to Illinois last week. He scrimmaged with the current Illini and toured the practice facility and campus with his mom, Juanita Jordan
NCAA regulations prohibit coach Bruce Weber and his staff from commenting on a walk-on until he enrolls at the UI.
College basketball is speckled with players rich in athletic pedigrees. Another is Patrick Ewing Jr., a junior forward who helped Georgetown to the Final Four in March. CBS cameras often panned the stands with shots of his father, a New York Knicks great. The younger Ewing transferred from Indiana after the 2004-05 season.
UAB assistant head coach Donnie Marsh coached Ewing Jr. for one season at Indiana. Marsh emphasized that "the biggest thing" for players with famed bloodlines is they "should be allowed to be themselves."
"When you had the kind of success his dad did, a lot of people will ask Patrick Ewing Jr. to be like Patrick Ewing Sr., or Michael Jordan's son to be like Michael Jordan. But you can't do that," Marsh said Thursday. "It does cast a light on those kids that is sometimes too bright to handle. They're not their fathers. You can bring their fathers into the conversation because that's part of who they are, but you have to allow them to be their own person."
April has been good to Illinois, which secured prep senior Quinton Watkins and junior college standout Rodney Alexander. Both recruits were considered to be among the top players at their position available late in the recruiting game. Still, a preferred walk-on will attract a greater wave of attention when his last name is Jordan.
"I think the thing we did with D.J. was we watched with the media that somebody didn't want to talk to him just because he was Darryl's son," Williams said. "It got old real quick: 'What's it like to be Darryl's son?' He just wanted to be a basketball player in the ACC. I'm sure a lot of guys in his position feel the same way."