Jordan's oldest son begins college career as walk-on sub at Illinois Print
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Sunday, 11 November 2007 13:11
NCAAB Headline News


 CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -Like the man who gave him the best basketball DNA on the planet, Jeff Jordan plays guard and with his tongue out.
The oldest son of Michael Jordan made his college debut for Illinois on Sunday. He got off the bench late in the second half of a 63-55 season-opening win over Northeastern.
In his three minutes on the court, the 6-foot-1 shooting guard wearing No. 13 took one shot - a miss - and handled the ball a few times. With his mother, Juanita, in the stands - Michael Jordan didn't make the game - Jeff Jordan looked like the walk-on freshman he is.
``It was good getting out there, breaking the ice,'' Jordan said after hugging his mom in the tunnel outside Illinois locker room. ``I come in with no expectations.''
Juanita Jordan declined to answer questions after the game, and Jeff Jordan isn't sure when his dad will see him play. Maybe at the Maui Invitational next week in Hawaii, he says.
Jordan is not the sort to play up his lineage. Those students who see him on campus say Jordan is just Jeff.
``He's one of the only people you see on campus who smiles at you'' even if he doesn't know you, Caitlin McCoy, a junior and member of the Orange Krush student section, said before tip-off.
Jordan came to Illinois from Loyola Academy, a prep school in Wilmette, a tony Chicago suburb. He was a good high school player, but only good enough to draw serious interest from mid-majors like Valparaiso, the school he turned down when he decided to try to walk on at Illinois.
When Illinois coach Bruce Weber is asked about him, he talks more about Jordan the great kid whose life has been lived in the limelight than Jordan the guard.
Adds season-ticket holder Tom Lewis: ``It's a great media story.''
That it has been.
In a year when the Illini are expected to finish in the middle of the Big Ten pack, ``Today Show'' host Matt Lauer was on campus a few weeks back, watching practice. Lauer was there to tape a segment on the Jordans that ran Friday morning.
Michael Jordan told Lauer he liked his son's decision to be a small fish in a relatively big pond, rather than the scholarship and starring role he could have had at a smaller school.
``The thing we have tried to tell Jeff is that you pick your own expectations and if you're happy that's all that matters,'' Michael Jordan said.
Still, for all the hype, Sunday's game had only the usual contingent of 70 or so reporters, photographers and cameramen. The crowd was dotted with empty seats.
Sports information director Kent Brown, speaking like a man who's heard the question too many times, says so far there hasn't been much of a Jordan effect.
``We've sold out season tickets now for four straight years,'' Brown said. ``I really don't think the addition of Jeff was responsible for the fourth.''
When Jordan took the court Sunday with a little more than nine minutes left, there wasn't much fanfare. The cheer was a little louder than for most subs. The handful of Northeastern fans managed a halfhearted chant of ``overrated.''
``I heard them a little bit,'' Jordan said. ``I expect that. That comes with the territory.''
 

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