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UCF Basketball Stars Marcus Jordan, A.J. Rompza Embody Team Chemistry

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  • UCF guards A.J. Rompza and Marcus Jordan grew up together, which established an initial connection.
  • A.J. influenced Marcus to come to UCF to build a legacy.
  • The duo’s on and off the court connection has made the team better and is noticeable to teammates.

 

Chemistry.

It’s a word that you commonly hear in sports and something that is preached by coaches, players and analysts. For a sports team to build chemistry, they need to spend time together, grow together and be able to understand each other.

For UCF basketball teammates A.J. Rompza and Marcus Jordan, chemistry comes easier than most.

“We have known each other for so long, since eighth grade. How close we are off the court always leads to good things on the court. We know what each other is going to do on the court and we know each other’s comfort zones,” point guard and team captain, Rompza said.

And it’s that off the court connection that really sparks the way the duo plays on the court and ultimately helps the Knights basketball team be successful.

Growing Up Together

Rompza and Jordan, son of basketball legend Michael Jordan, grew up together in Chicago and have played on the same team since Jordan’s junior year in high school when he transferred to Whitney Young High in order to play with his close friend.

However, they met in the eighth grade through playing basketball for the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) and have been friends ever since. That friendship grew through high school and was maintained when Rompza left for Orlando to play for the Knights while Jordan was still at Whitney Young.

In Jordan’s senior year, he helped lead Whitney Young to the Illinois Division 4A state title, while Rompza was learning the college basketball system as freshman on a young Knights team.

When it was time for Marcus to choose his college destination, it was a much simpler choice than most would think considering his last name.

“Definitely a lot of my decision was based on AJ. UCF has brand new facilities and great fan support and also it’s a great university on the academic side as well, which all played a factor in my decision,” Jordan said.

“But Having A.J. here while coming into a new environment weighed heavy because I knew it would make my transition from Chicago to Orlando a lot more smooth.”

A.J. also knew it would be an easy decision to get his buddy down to UCF.

“I knew that once he came down here to visit, he’d (Marcus) fall in love with it.”

Creating a Legacy

It was the friendship that the backcourt duo established that really made it an easy decision for Marcus to move to Orlando and try to create a legacy with the UCF basketball program.

“Creating a legacy was definitely a goal of mine when being recruited. But that’s up to you guys to decide when it’s all said and done,” Jordan said.

Marcus and A.J. are now in their second year together at UCF and they have helped the program improve immensely. The Knights went undefeated in their non-conference play for the first time in school history, were nationally ranked for the first time in school history and at 14-6, they are only one win away from matching last year’s victory total.

A lot of that has to do with the starting backcourt combination of Rompza and Jordan. They know where to look for each other on the court and really benefit from being teammates in the past.

“Anytime that you are able to play with someone who you played with in high school it creates great chemistry. We know what each other is thinking on the court,” Rompza says adamantly.

Unselfish Play

Rompza and Jordan’s chemistry has translated into team success and a big reason for that is their selfless play. They’re not worried about statistics or individual accomplishments; they’re in it to win it and that means sharing and playing team ball.

As leaders of the team that are depended on to bring the team together, their unselfish play really has an affect on the rest of the roster.

“We share the ball and we don’t really care who scores. When the other guys see that, they know all we’re trying to do is win,” Rompza said.

And while neither guard cares much about whom scores, Jordan’s numbers have increased greatly since last year with Rompza knowing his best friends’ favorite spots on the floor and what will help him get into a groove.

Jordan has increased his scoring from eight points a game last year, to a team-leading 15.6 points per game this year. A lot of that improvement has been from the help of Rompza.

The Future is Bright

With Marcus only being a sophomore and Rompza a junior, there is still plenty of time for the combo to mature and develop, as well as time for the team to continue to get better.

UCF has been receiving more recognition than it ever has before and that will continue to build with players like Rompza and Jordan have an impact. The two are truly dedicated to improving and winning. They both strive to make UCF a better basketball program and with the talent that’s coming in next year, along with the development of the team’s two biggest leaders, the future is very bright.

“We’re just trying to get better everyday on and off the basketball court,” Jordan said.

With a new coach in place in Donnie Jones, the Knights have all the pieces starting to come together. And with talented players that have the right mindset such as Rompza and Jordan, the UCF basketball program is going to continue to rise.

The dynamic duo has already had so many great memories in just less than two years as teammates at UCF. Among their favorites is the team’s victory over the No. 18 ranked Florida Gators earlier this season, which is a sign of how good they can be.

While UCF has a talented team in place, the true growth starts with the chemistry that Jordan and Rompza embody. Their noticeable chemistry both off and on the court is undeniable and contagious. It’s rare that two best friends get an opportunity to play a sport together on a competitive college level, while maintaining a friendship off the court.

But, with A.J. Rompza and Marcus Jordan, chemistry is something they’ve had since the eighth grade.

“Playing with your best friend is truly special,” Rompza said.

Multimedia idea: Picture of Marcus and A.J. both on the court (passing the ball to each other) and off the court (hanging out). Also, a supplementary video of the two playing basketball together.

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Written by allenucf

February 1, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Posted in Features