It’s time for another Recruiting Rewind, and this time, we look back on one of the more convoluted recruitments of Coach Cal’s tenure at UK: Terrence Jones.
Most college commitments are pretty cut and dry. The kid sets a date, decides a few days before, then announces it to the world with complete certainty. The saga that Terrence Jones went through, however, was pretty much everything but cut and dry.
In a class topped off by Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes, and one flat-earther Kyrie Irving, it would’ve been easy to dismiss a lot of players outside the top 5 of the 2010 recruiting rankings.
But T-Jones did his best to stand out.
At the high school level, Jones was athletic enough to dominate at pretty much every position on the court. His skillset was worthy of a player with the right to choose between Kansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, UCLA, Washington and Kentucky.
By commitment time, the race would pretty much come down to UK, with Cal about to have 5 players drafted in the 1st round, or Washington, where Jones could stay close to home and join his high school teammate Terrence Ross.
Ah, a twist!
I’ve personally never seen a commit less confident in their own choice. The Seattle Times’ Percy Allen knew Jones wasn’t exactly euphoric after his decision:
The news conference is over, but the drama may just be starting.
Almost everyone has left the Jefferson High gymnasium, however, Terrence Jones is huddled with his parents in the corner of the gymnasium and folks are keeping their distance. Seems like a major pow-wow.
I spoke to Jones and I can tell this recruiting stuff hasn’t been fun for him. On what is supposed to be a joyous occasion, he sighed heavily and said he was happy that it was over.
Unlike Terrence Ross, who was decked out in Husky purple and said he made his choice a month ago, Jones didn’t know where he was going until the moment he picked the UW hat.
From there, Jones was still in talks with Coach Cal, and based on an interview Calipari did with Seattle’s 95.5 The Fan, Terrence immediately regretted choosing the Huskies:
Well, we thought that he was coming with us and when he said ‘Washington’ we were like ‘what just happened?’ That was the first thing. Then he called about an hour later and said ‘Cal, I made a mistake. I don’t know what I was doing.’ That is when the thing went like ‘You what?’ So we talked to him and said that we are going to do whatever you want. I am holding your scholarship.”
It’s a good thing Cal left the door open, as Jones would flip the script and commit to the Wildcats just 3 weeks later.
Jones’ freshman year at UK saw him average 15.7 points and 8.8 boards per game. He was named the SEC Rookie of the Year, and was a 1st Team All-SEC selection in 2011.
His sophomore year saw his statistical performance drop, averaging only 12.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Of course, with the additions of AD and MKG, Terrence no longer had to be the only dominant forward on the floor at times for Kentucky.
Jones’ and Doron Lambs’ decisions to stay at Kentucky for their sophomore seasons bolstered the maturity of the 2012 squad. Many fans cite this maturity as the missing link in Calipari’s teams since then.
Of course, we know what their leadership did for this team.