Source: Jones to coach Central Florida

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.