Former NBA coach Eddie Jordan returns to roots with D.C. Assault program


PITTSBURGH–We’ve seen that look from Eddie Jordan before.

On an in-bound play, his team turns the ball over, which leads to two easy points in transition for the opposition. Jordan runs his fingers through his hair and looks away in displeasure, signaling to the referee for a timeout.

The game may appear to be the same, but the location isn’t. This isn’t an arena crowded with 20,000 spectators, something that Jordan would be used to after nine seasons as an NBA head coach.

Instead, he is in a middle school gym in suburban Pittsburgh, coaching in front of about twenty college coaches and, by a rough estimate, 100 parents and evaluators.

Jordan is now the coach of the D.C. Assault 17U team, a prominent AAU program from Washington D.C., that has churned out talent like Michael Beasley of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Nolan Smith of the Portland Trailblazers.

He called that timeout to settle his team down. It worked. They regrouped and went on to win, 62-37, in the first round of the Hoop Group Pitt Jam Fest.

But this story isn’t about Eddie Jordan hitting some sort of metaphorical “bottom.” If it were, there would be no story to tell, because this is not the bottom. This, for Jordan, is the top.

“It took me this long to get me where I really wanted to be,” he told “Frankly, I wanted to coach middle school and high school kids. I was raised in southeast Washington D.C. It was a tough environment.

“I saw what my high school and middle school coach did and said, ‘This is what you can do to affect kids and make a difference and change kids’ lives.’”

Jordan, 57, was the head coach of three NBA teams in his nine-year career, and was also an assistant on the New Jersey Nets teams that reached the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003.

He was fired from the Philadelphia 76ers in 2010 after just one season, finishing with a record of 27-55. But that is where the path, unconventional as it may seem, led back to his roots in Washington D.C.

He took a position as the freshman basketball coach at his alma mater, Archbishop Carroll High School (D.C.), after leaving the 76ers, where he was approached by Curtis Malone, an acquaintance who helps to run the D.C. Assault program.

Malone invited Jordan to work out with the team this past fall, and which led to Jordan taking over as coach this spring.

“There’s no one second-guessing you here. It’s pure basketball,” says Jordan with a genuine sense of sincerity. “I’m not getting paid. You want to enjoy what you’re doing. It was just basketball, working with kids. Most of them are Division I recruits, so it’s terrific.”

At the center of his program is point guard Nate Britt, a 2013 prospect committed to play for coach Roy Williams at North Carolina.

Britt is an intelligent basketball player who, when not playing for D.C. Assault, is the point man at Gonzaga (D.C.), one of the strongest programs in the D.C.-area conference, the WCAC.

As an elite-level guard, Britt says he is focused on what Jordan brings to the floor.

“He’s teaching me a lot about how to play, how to bring intensity all the time,” he says. “Just from him being an NBA coach, I’m learning a lot from him because he shows us how the NBA guys carry themselves and have that killer instinct every night.

“He’s a really nice guy. For him to come down from the NBA and teach kids at this level, I think it’s great.”

Britt’s father, Nate Sr., has coached D.C. Assault previously and Jordan credits the younger Britt’s development to his father’s guidance.

As Jordan returns to this grassroots level, it allows him to get involved as players emerge into the national spotlight for the first time.

Part of that spotlight is dealing with the media, with which Jordan has extensive experience from his time in the NBA. But instead of emphasizing it, Jordan prefers to focus on the court.

“I didn’t really talk about media. I talk about how to be a good teammate,” Jordan recounts. “How to respond to coaching. They’re so innocent and willing to listen, it’s a pleasure to coach them.”

Away from the national media spotlight, as he is in a middle school gym outside Pittsburgh, Jordan speaks in a way that projects contentment and a sense of pleasure with what he is doing.

D.C. Assault was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Pitt Jam Fest, but not before a strong performance from Britt and 2013 forward Kris Jenkins.

The 6-5, 230-pound Jenkins is currently drawing interest from schools that include Rutgers, Virginia Tech, Miami, and Villanova. He, too, is drawing off of Jordan’s presence with the Assault program.

“To have somebody who played and coached at that level is great,” says Jenkins. “He has knowledge and is a great teacher.”

But where will Jordan go from here, no that he has reached the job that he initially set out for?

“I’ve made a great living at the college level and in the NBA and I don’t want to retire,” he says. “I think I could coach another 8 to 10 years in the big leagues, but if it comes it comes.

“At this level, they’re talented, they’re respectful. There’s not the other drama you have to deal with. That’s how basketball was years ago.”

It might sound overly idyllic at first, but that’s not how it comes off when Jordan says it. Instead, it is decidedly humanizing, something that i at times lost or unseen at the professional level.

After more than a decade at the highest level, he recounted the one moment that sticks out most in his mind.

“My players invited me to their basketball banquet at Archbishop Carroll,” he says. “They gave me a book and essays they wrote about me. This is the most they could give and it was from their heart. It’s better than any ring or trophy.”

A chance could arise, hypothetically, for Jordan to return to the NBA, but don’t be so sure that he’d jump at just any offer. It might be too difficult to pull him away from grassroots.

“I didn’t want to sit around and wait for someone to hire me. I love basketball. I love teaching it,” he says. “And, here, I’m having a ball.”

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.

South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley have canceled a home-and-home series with BYU over a recent racial incident where a Cougars fan yelled slurs at a Duke volleyball player.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina on Friday. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson, a Black member of the school’s volleyball team, said she heard racial slurs from the stands during the match.

BYU apologized for the incident and Richardson said the school’s volleyball players reached out to her in support.

South Carolina said it was searching for another home opponent to start the season.

Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner spoke with Staley about the series and supported the decision to call off the games.