CHAMPAIGN — Jordan Caroline, who would have been the leading returning scorer and rebounder for Champaign Central's basketball team this season, has left to attend a prep school in Florida.
The 6-foot-5 junior is enrolled at Montverde Academy in suburban Orlando.
Caroline, a 2012 News-Gazette All-Area special mention pick, is the second Maroons player in as many years to transfer to a prep school. Jay Simpson, now a freshman at Purdue, enrolled at La Lumiere in La Porte, Ind., after his junior year at Central.
Caroline could not be reached for comment. Jayna Caroline, in an email to The News-Gazette on Wednesday night, declined a request to discuss her son's change of schools.
Under three-time national Coach of the Year Kevin Boyle, Montverde has attained prominent stature in boys' basketball. Last season, Montverde ranked 10th in the final USA Today Super 25 poll after finishing with a 23-4 record and placing second in the National High School Invitational.
The program also has built a record of regularly sending players on to the college ranks. According to the school's website, 40 players signed college basketball scholarships from 2004 to '11, including current Milwaukee Bucks forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Current college freshman players from Montverde include Michael Frazier II of Florida and Anthony Perez-Cortesia of Mississippi.
Central coach Scott Davis described Caroline's departure as "a puzzle."
"I don't know if it was an exposure thing," Davis said this week. "Maybe he feels like he will get the exposure he wants for college. But exposure, so much of it comes now from AAU (basketball) in the summer."
Caroline played an integral role last season for a Maroons team that went 19-11, tied for second in the Big 12 Conference and advanced to the finals of the Class 3A sectionals — Central's deepest advancement in the IHSA tournament since placing third at state in 2008.
Caroline, who primarily played center, ranked third on the team in scoring average (9.7 points) and second in rebounds (183) in his first season on varsity. He would have been one of two returning starters for the Maroons, along with forward Xavier Martin.
"He would have been a focal part of a pretty good team for the next couple of years," Davis said of Caroline.
Caroline's departure leaves Central with two potential returnees from a senior-heavy 2011-12 roster. However, Davis is confident the Maroons will remain competitive with the addition of players from last season's highly successful sophomore group.
"We're going to be fine," Davis said. "We had a sophomore team that was 23-3 or something like that. ... We'd love to have Jordan with us, but we're going to move right along."