Their famous father even referenced the heavy expectations on his sons in his Hall of Fame speech last year when he said, “I wouldn’t want to be you guys.”
“Growing up it was tough. It was tough with the pressure. We knew what we were getting into with basketball, too,” Jeff said. “It’s gotten a little easier to deal with. It really hasn’t changed, it’s just not as much a factor to me as it used to be when I was younger.”
There wasn’t a smooth start in college for Marcus, either.
He made waves his freshman year for wearing Air Jordans _ which his father made famous with Nike _ and refusing to lace up the school-issued Adidas shoes. UCF maintained that it had approval from Adidas during Marcus‘ recruitment, but Adidas chose not to renew the school’s contract. Nike now provides the athletic apparel.
Through it all, UCF athletic director Keith Tribble said the Jordans’ impact has been far more positive than negative.
“When we had Marcus last year, it really put UCF and our basketball program on the map,” Tribble said. “People were watching because of his father, arguably the greatest basketball player who’s ever played. And now having his brother here, Jeffrey, now people will say, ‘Well it’s good for Marcus, they must be doing something right. And now you’ve got the second brother here, then it really must be good.’”
Only time will tell.
Jeff, a seldom-used reserve as a walk-on at Illinois, said he left the school because UCF provides a better opportunity. He also is a non-scholarship player for the Knights and will continue studying psychology at UCF.
Marcus played in all 32 games, starting 18, as a freshman. He averaged eight points and three rebounds per game, came on strong late in the season and earned Conference USA all-freshman team honors.
Being teammates will take a little getting used to.
They both have their first initial before their last name on their jerseys now, often guard each other in practices and can’t avoid running into each other on campus or at late-night hangouts.
“It feels like high school again,” Jeff said.
As for living together?
Well, they do need a little space. After growing up in the same home, Jeff didn’t really want to room together.
“Been there, done that,” Jeff said, chuckling. “There are some things you don’t want to experience again.”