Head coach Donnie Jones utilizes former NCAA tournament star in program
Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 15:09
The 2012-2013 UCF men’s basketball team has gone through a flurry of changes since receiving its NCAA-mandated one-year ban from tournament play for recruiting violations. Although three seniors have chosen to not return to the team, a positive light is already starting to shine through this offseason.
Senior forward Keith Clanton was the first and most important domino that needed to fall in order for head coach Donnie Jones to give his team meaning and direction. With the Knights’ ineligibility to compete in postseason play regardless of their expected dominance in Conference USA, Clanton’s return was essential for on- and off-the-court morale.
Some intriguing changes have been made to the operational staff as well. J.P. Clark, UCF’s assistant director of operations, has signed on with the Boston Celtics to work in their player development department, a token not only to Clark’s work ethic, but to the overall expectation of excellence Jones has brought to UCF since taking over in 2010.
Most recently joining the team is former Virginia Commonwealth point guard of 2011 Final Four infamy Joey Rodriguez. Familiar with Orlando, the Lake Howell High School alumnus will be an assistant video coordinator in his first gig off the court in his career.
“It’s different not being out there and I won’t be on the sidelines, but I know it’s going to be a good experience and I will learn a lot about what goes on behind the scenes,” Rodriguez said.
After his final year at VCU, which saw him take over first place in minutes and games played in Rams history, Rodriguez spent a season playing professionally in Turkey before being given the opportunity to return home and begin working on his dream to one day be a head coach.
“Right now I am not really thinking about [becoming a coach] or putting a time limit on it. I had the chance to stay in Turkey, but I’m from [Orlando] and I could not turn down coming back home and being a part of a team like this,” Rodriguez said.
While the responsibility of gathering, editing and analyzing film is not an easy or stress-free task, the ability to view the game from a nonplayer perspective is something that Rodriguez believes will expand his knowledge of the game and make him more versatile in the future.
“I don’t know what coaches really do, I have always been a player first, so it will be interesting to see what it’s like to spend so much time preparing for the next game and team,” Rodriguez said.
“I’m glad to be home.”