Weber shows confidence in Jordan

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CHAMPAIGN – In choosing to play at Illinois as a walk-on, Jeff Jordan turned down scholarship offers from the likes of Valparaiso and Loyola.

Now he has a scholarship at Illinois.

Coach Bruce Weber said Thursday that Jordan has been awarded a scholarship for the spring semester. It marks the first time the 6-foot-2 sophomore is on scholarship as an Illini.

"When I first came here, it was just about helping the guys out, and I was just trying to fit in with the team," Jordan said Thursday. "The more I fit in, my goals kind of rose. ...

"It (earning a scholarship) was definitely a goal early in this season."

Weber said Jordan's work ethic was a factor in earning the scholarship. In retrospect, the coach said, Jordan probably should have been awarded a scholarship for the fall semester.

"I think he's proven to us that he belongs. He's done a nice job of having a niche, having a role," Weber said. "You saw he can be really a pest on defense. He pushes the ball on the fast break probably better than anyone, Chester (Frazier) or Demetri (McCamey)."

As a freshman, Jordan's best moments came in overtime games against Indiana at the Assembly Hall and against Purdue in the Big Ten tournament. This season he has proven to be a capable backup for Frazier, and Jordan said he models his own defensive efforts after the senior.

As a sophomore, Jordan has averaged 7.4 minutes in five Big Ten games, and coaches are increasingly comfortable plugging him in when Frazier needs a breather. Weber has indicated he thinks Jordan can be a team leader as an upperclassman.

"He's just a good, quality kid. He's a good team member," Weber said. "Along the way, I think we as a staff ... feel more and more confident that when he goes in there he can be solid for us."

pklee@news-gazette.com

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