Thursday, April 22, 2021

Jordan McCorey - MVP

Last Thursday (April 15th, 2021), Jordan McCorey defended his master thesis Forecasting Most Valuable Players of the National Basketball Association.

Jordan McCorey received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from NC A&T University in 2017. Right after graduation, he started his full time job at Boeing in North Charleston as a process engineer. He joined our Master of Science in Engineering Management as a part-time student in Fall 2018. 

Jordan McCorey's master thesis defense
From left to right: Dr. Tao Hong, Dr. Linquan Bai, Jordan McCorey, and Dr. Pu Wang

MVP, a.k.a. Most Valuable Player, is the highest individual award for the most performing player in the entire league. If I were asked to name the MVP among all the graduate students in our program during this pandemic year, Jordan McCorey would be the one.

I have always been interested in sports, basketball in particular. After ISF2019, I sent an email to our graduate students list with a few project topics. One topic was sports analytics - NBA forecasting. Jordan responded to my email with a passionate cover letter expressing his strong interest.

We quickly set up a phone call to discuss a plan to move forward. During the phone call, I was very pleasant to know that Jordan was a varsity basketball player in high school. His understanding of the game was definitely a big plus for this topic. On the other hand, I also got to know that he has limited experience in programming, statistics, and forecasting.

I explained the challenge to him. Apparently he didn't back off. Then I asked him to take my forecasting course, which is known as one of the most demanding courses on campus. The COVID-19 pandemic hit us right in the middle of Spring 2020 semester. Many students took the easy route by taking a passing grade. Jordan, however, worked extra hard to earn a solid A while working on his full-time job at Boeing. 

Due to the quarantine, I was never able to meet Jordan in person. Instead, we had many phone calls to discuss his plan of study, research progress, and of course, our shared passion about the game of basketball. 

A few weeks before his defense date, I got a call from Jordan telling me that he just had Achilles injury. That's the same injury that led to Kobe's retirement, and the same injury that took down Kevin Durant during Game 5 of 2019 final. I asked him if he wanted to postpone the defense. He said no.

Then it came the defense date. 

A fabulous presentation Jordan delivered. 

I was super impressed, so were the other two committee members. 

Jordan McCorey, MVP of the 2020-2021 academic year. 

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