I believe in Terrence Jones. He announced his decision to stay last year on my birthday, which I took as a sign that he was meant to be a personal favorite of mine; so far, it’s held true. Even from the first Waldo Geraldo Faldo comparison, I was sold: no way this guy was anything but alright. But so far he’s proven that he’s a mercurial player that has great potential, but also a great measure of fluctuation as to how he’ll perform game in and game out. With so much up-and-down in his output, it forces me to consider a question I never thought I’d ask:
Will we see Terrence Jones suit up in Kentucky blue next season?
In October, that question seemed preposterous. The guy was on the precipice of leaving for the NBA before deciding, right at the deadline, that he was coming back for a second go at a national title. While we of course appreciated that, there was little doubt that his motivations to win a championship were at the very least mingled with a desire to be drafted higher. And that’s completely fine; there’s no grounds for saying that a player coming back to improve his stock is selfish, even if that is the only reason he comes back (which I don’t think was the case with Terrence). However, we’re a little over halfway through the season. Does he look like a better player than he did last year?
Quite frankly, it’s arguable that Jones is currently the third-best player on this team, behind MKG and Anthony Davis. Keep in mind, that’s not necessarily a bad place for a player to be. Both were selected as mid-season All-Americans, and MKG has worked himself onto many commentators’ Player of the Year lists. They each came in with tremendous promise, and have overperformed. Meanwhile, Jones is playing a little under where we expected him to be, especially during a rough stretch starting at Indiana, and has us all wondering where the “real” Terrence went, since we know how well he can perform. But clearly, “Option 3” is not where we figured Jones would be on this team, nor likely where he thought himself to be at the start of the season.
During those first few games into the season, and particularly after the Kansas game at MSG, I thought Terrence could do no wrong. He was playing strong, heady basketball, and seemed to be making all the right decisions every time he got a touch. During the second quarter of the season, though, it was apparent that something was affecting his play. Obviously, the pinky injury that reminded me of Major Payne (warning: gross) is a completely legitimate reason to underperform, but remember that his struggles started before that injury, at Assembly Hall, where he had four points, one rebound, and six turnovers in the loss. There’s really no way to know what’s caused the funk. It could be as simple as the injury, or it could be that Jones gets in his own head too often and thinks about mistakes too much; it could even be girl trouble, for all I care (I wouldn’t break up with you, Terrence). It doesn’t matter what the source is, it only matters that he returns to the dominance that he’s capable of.
Recently, his game has started to pick back up. Hopefully, it continues to do so, and he plays himself back onto the All-American and Player of the Year lists, gets drafted in the top five, wins some games in April, and we all look back at this post as being silly and grossly off point. We all know he has the talent to do so, the guy oozes skill and strength in spades. All we can wonder is where his motivation has gone, and what he can do to get it back. Here’s hoping he gets it back tonight and single-handedly takes the Razorbacks out to the woodshed. He’s got that kind of ability. We’ve seen it. But if he doesn’t use that ability, and we see for the third and fourth quarters of the season the play that he showcased in the second quarter, whether or not he’ll go pro is a legitimate question. While I’d love to have him back another year, the cost for him to consider staying (underwhelming play the rest of the season) is not worth the reward. I’d rather he revert to Terrence Jones: Basketball Superman form now, and go to the draft in June, than piddle around SEC play, and stay. That sound about right to you? Because there’s no way we’re winning a title without Jones playing to the best of his ability. Our team is good now, but will be excellent when Jones and his teammates play one-hundred percent the way they’re capable of playing.
So if you’re reading this, Terrence, know that we need you. You’re our dude, and the only reason people complain about ten point performances is because we know you can score forty. Let’s make this happen, and get you onto the worst possible NBA team we can, making boatloads of money to spend on pointless stuff.
Oh, and if we happen to win a championship between now and then, so be it.