ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Central Florida basketball coach Donnie Jones received good and bad news about the quartet of seniors he hoped to have on the court this season.
All-Conference USA big man Keith Clanton told Jones over the weekend that he would return for his final season. Meanwhile, Marcus Jordan, Josh Crittle and C.J. Reed have decided to leave the program, UCF announced Monday.
Jordan, the youngest son of NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, will continue to take classes at UCF. Reed, a former Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Player of the Year as a junior guard at Bethune-Cookman, sat out last year after transferring to UCF, and now he is transferring again to Georgia Southern.
Reed's father, Cliff Reed, was hired at Georgia Southern as an assistant earlier this month and also coached his son at Bethune.
Crittle, a 6-foot-9 center, had reportedly recently visited DePaul. But it is unknown if that is where he will transfer.
The UCF seniors were given the option by the NCAA to transfer immediately after the Knights' basketball and football programs with hit with sanctions for major recruiting violations. The punishment included one-year postseason bans in both sports.
UCF is appealing its postseason ban in football, but not basketball.
School officials said Jordan's decision was unrelated to the NCAA penalties.
Clanton, a 6-foot-8 forward, was courted by national champion Kentucky and Florida State, among others, after the penalties were announced July 31. But the Orlando native announced on Twitter on Saturday that he would be at UCF when classes opened Monday.
``I think to people's surprise I will be returning to UCF for my Sr. season,'' Clanton posted on his account. ``I love this team and my dreams and goals can be fulfilled here.''
The decision was a huge victory for Jones, who retains a player that averaged a team-high 14.5 points and 8.1 rebounds in leading the Knights to a 22-11 finish last season.
Jordan has previously expressed interests beyond the basketball court, including possible business ventures, and received permission from UCF's coaching staff to spend this past summer away from Orlando.
Jordan was arrested July 2 for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct for an incident outside a hotel in Omaha, Neb.
The 6-3 shooting guard's departure is a blow to the Knights, who lose the 13.7 points and 2.4 assists he averaged as a junior. He also had 24 double-digit scoring performances.
They also lose a charismatic personality, whose presence promoting UCF on social media, combined with his family pedigree, helped draw more fans to Knights basketball games.
Jordan's older brother, Jeffrey Jordan, played 13 games as a senior at UCF last season after transferring from Illinois. But he left the program in early January, citing personal reasons.
Jones said recently that he wanted to give all his seniors the time and space they needed to make their decisions.
``It's always a hard decision with seniors,'' Jones said. ``They got hit with this ... and the main focus for everyone is I told them, `It's about you. I want the best for you and the right decision for you.'
``They still have an opportunity here in a program they've played in and for a coach that knows it no better than me. And our program's been built around those guys.''
He was also adamant that even if there were some defections, he felt the core of the program would remain strong.
``I know we've had some setbacks here. But setbacks are set up for comebacks. It's just on how you approach things,'' Jones said. ``I'm still very excited about our team, about the recruits we have coming in, and about the commitment here at this university. So it's a great time to be a part of what's still happening here.''
Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower.