BOISE, Idaho – University at Buffalo guard Davonta Jordan should not be out of his comfort zone Saturday when he takes the floor against a lineup of high school All-Americans for the University of Kentucky.
Jordan played his senior year of high school for one of the top prep basketball teams in the nation, Montverde Academy, near Orlando, Fla. In the three years before Jordan got to Montverde, the school produced No. 1 overall NBA draft pick Ben Simmons, No. 3 overall pick Joel Embiid and No. 2 pick D'Angelo Russell. Jordan's Montverde team was filled with Division I recruits, including Syracuse's Howard Washington.
Jordan played summer AAU basketball on the "Each 1 Teach 1" team with Kentucky's top-rated player, guard Kevin Knox, as well as recent NBA draft picks Jonathan Isaac and Tony Bradley. He also played AAU ball against Oklahoma's Trae Young, who led the nation in scoring as a freshman this year.
"It's something I've been doing, I want to say my whole life," said Jordan. "Me playing this game against this team is nothing new to me, really."
Jordan sure wasn't overwhelmed by the moment in UB's NCAA Tournament victory over Arizona Thursday.
The 6-foot-2 sophomore guard from Cocoa, Fla., was a defensive catalyst for the Bulls, along with guard-mate Dontay Caruthers. They harassed Arizona's guards and made it hard for the Wildcats to set up their offense.
"It's something we've been doing all year," Jordan said. "Me coming into college, I was always a good on-the-ball defender. Going into that game, our strategy was to pressure their guards so they couldn't throw the ball up top to DeAndre Ayton. Me doing that disrupted their offense and made them start thinking of other stuff rather than getting the ball where it needed to be."
"We've got the two best defensive guards in the country in Caruthers and Jordan," said an ebullient UB coach Nate Oats after the Arizona game.
Jordan has averaged 26 minutes a game this season and scored 7.6 points a game. His lateral quickness helped earned him a spot on the Mid-American Conference's five-man all-defensive team.
Jordan's defense led him to transfer to Montverde for his senior high school season.
"My AAU team had at least three players on the team that went to Montverde, and Montverde's head coach used to come watch the team all the time. So he saw that I could guard. He invited me."
Jordan averaged 8 points and 5 assists for Montverde.
"At the beginning I was getting spot minutes," Jordan said. "As I got comfortable with the system and playing with top players every night, boom, I got into the starting lineup the second half of the season."
Jordan's SAT scores didn't qualify for Division I college play until later in his senior season. That's why he still was unsigned in the early summer of 2016, when UB coaches saw him playing AAU ball. UB had an open scholarship because star point guard Lamonte Bearden had transferred to Western Kentucky. If Buffalo hadn't made him an offer, Jordan probably would have gone to a prep school one more year.
"What I liked about Buffalo is they've got a winning tradition," Jordan said. "Everybody comes out every night and plays hard. The culture is built on toughness and defense, and that fit my style."