Source: Jones to coach Central Florida

Updated: March 29, 2010, 1:38 AM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Marshall coach Donnie Jones will return to the state of Florida where he helped Billy Donovan rebuild the Florida Gators by taking over Conference USA rival Central Florida, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to ESPN.com on Sunday night.

Citing a source, Foxsports.com first reported the hiring earlier Sunday night.

Jones leaves a Marshall team that he coached to a 24-10 record, 11-5 in C-USA, and a second-round appearance in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.

Jones was 16-14 in his first season (8-8) and 15-17 (7-9) in his second season prior to this past improvement at Marshall. He replaces Kirk Speraw, who coached the Golden Knights since 1993, making the NCAA tournament four times. Central Florida, deemed a sleeping giant by a number of coaches for its resources and rising student body numbers in Orlando, finished a disappointing 15-17, 6-10 in C-USA.

Jones found a hidden gem in freshman center Hassan Whiteside, who is expected to declare for the NBA draft after one season of averaging 13.1 points and 8.9 rebounds a game for the Herd.

The Central Florida job attracted a number of candidates like Murray State's Billy Kennedy, Morgan State's Todd Bozeman, Timberwolves assistant Reggie Theus, former Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie -- in play heavily at Houston -- and former USC coach Tim Floyd, who could land at UTEP.

Senior writer Andy Katz covers college sports for ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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