July 23, 2010
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By Doug Richards
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - For the last decade or so, Donnie Jones has watched the NBA Draft like a proud parent. Jones has had good reason to view the draft with great interest. Since 1998, 13 of his players have been selected, with eight getting tabbed in the first round.
Last month, the latest of Jones' pupils to hear his name in the draft was Hassan Whiteside. The center was tabbed with the 33rd overall pick by Sacramento. In his freshman season at Marshall, Whiteside led the country with 182 blocks playing for Jones. The 2009-10 Conference USA Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year, he averaged 13.1 points and 8.9 boards per game.
Whiteside recently signed a multi-year contract with the Kings.
Jones says he gets great satisfaction each time one of his players in taken in the draft.
"That is one of the dreams that every guy has when he comes to college," he said. "He wants to be an NBA player. Any time that you can help a kid reach his goal and fulfill a dream, it gives you a great sense of pride."
Whiteside was one of four Conference USA players tabbed in this year's draft. Twelve league players have been selected in the last three drafts, including UCF's Jermaine Taylor, who was picked by Washington with the 32nd overall pick a year ago before being traded to Houston. Jones believes that the high number of draft picks speaks about the strength of C-USA.
"We had two teams make the NCAAs this past year and neither was Memphis. That just tells you how good our league was. We have a lot of talented guys who didn't get drafted that I think could play in the NBA as well. I think that our league is going to continue to improve," Jones said.