Hello friends. As we get headlong and underway into the 2010 Who Wants to be a Blogger Contest, today I’m charged with a new group of five — all talking deftly about Mr. Terrence Jones, and having to cut one loose from the pack. So let’s get right to it, shall we?
Although usually enjoyable, spending the summer in Kentucky can be completely uncomfortable. I imagine it feels like kissing Brooklyn Decker in a mosquito infested rain forest. Her beauty barely compensates for the scorching temperature and possible West Nile infection. As expected, the current June heat has been unforgiving. By the time I reached Lexington I was a tiny gray shirt worn by Patrick Ewing.
My editor sprang for the $25 in gas money and sent me to the University of Kentucky to interview Terrence Jones. A five star prospect out of Portland, Oregon, Jones is a 6’8” Power Forward who led Jefferson High School to three straight state championships. Havoc ensued after Jones, who had previously signed with the Washington Huskies, changed his mind and chose the Wildcats. Some speculated that Kentucky head coach John Calipari broke unwritten rules and unfairly recruited Jones after he had made his college decision. I am here to set the record straight. Maybe.
I was told Terrence would be working out at the Joe Craft Center. If Rupp Arena is the sacred temple of college basketball, this place is the progressive mega church where the praise band sounds like Earth, Wind and Fire. Despite the modernity, what resonates most is the history of the program. The walls are adorned with championship banners, silent reminders of what is expected at Kentucky.
Terrence was shooting free throws at the opposite end of the court when I approached him. He was very polite and extended his giant hand to shake my milky white girlish one. Although Terrence is roughly seven inches taller than I am, I think I might outweigh him by 15 pounds or so. This is very unsettling, for me of course.
I opened the interview with a series of speed questions. His favorite movie is Heavyweights. His favorite actor is Lou Diamond Phillips. I asked him who he thought was the hottest actress in Hollywood. With a sheepish look on his face he answered, “No doubt, Kathy Bates. I love confidence in a woman. Well, her or Jessica Alba.” I knew this kid was gold.
One scout famously wrote, “Terrence Jones is more unstoppable than the Spread Gun in Contra.” I asked him how he felt about this flattering comparison. “I am like the Spread Gun,” he said, chuckling a bit. “I come at the defense in all directions. When a defender comes out of nowhere I blast him. Next year Florida will be a disgusting alien and I will be those guys from Contra, except I don’t need any up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start.”
I was slightly hesitant to ask Terrence my next question. A few days after he decided to attend Kentucky there was wild speculation on the internet that an impromptu meeting with Bigfoot persuaded him to leave the Pacific Northwest for Lexington. As an amateur cryptozoologist myself, the question was too interesting to pass up. “That is false,” he curtly interjected. “That rumor was started by some loser blogger from Washington. First of all, Bigfoot is not real. Everybody knows that you should really be afraid of the Chupacabra. Thank God he lives in Texas. Secondly, if Bigfoot was real, and he did roll up on me, I would blast him with my Spread Gun, just like the way I’m going to blast Bruce Pearl when I come to Knoxville next year.”
After laughing at the thought of Hobbits in orange jackets fleeing for their lives, I asked Terrence a serious question. I had heard that a mysterious package containing a collection of early 90’s grunge had been sent to him anonymously. When asked about the puzzling gift, Jones responded rather soberly. “I opened the box and found single CD. Attached to it was a note that read, “Listen to this and you will understand. Good luck, Prairie Dog.” I listened to the CD and when I was finished I just cried. I’m not too familiar with Nirvana, Mudhoney, or Sonic Youth, but I know I hate them. I just spiraled into this deep depression. A week later I took my official visit to Lexington and I was still sad. They took me to some horse race thing and suddenly I was my old self. I don’t know if it was the country music blaring from the tailgating, or the sight of the pristine horses, or all the attractive girls in sundresses, but I felt better. I’m not sure who Prairie Dog is, but I would just like to say thanks. I don’t think I can live in a place that produced that kind of music.”
Terrence was a very affable young man who took time out of his buys day to talk to a simpleton like me. Before we parted ways, him to work on the jumper that will make him rich, me to sweat in a ’97 Camry, I asked him if he would answer one last question. I asked him what ultimately made him choose Kentucky over Washington. “When I called Coach Cal, I told him I had made a mistake. I told him that I was unsure, and that I didn’t know what to do. Coach Cal paused and then said something I will never forget. He said, “Terrence, who would win in a fight, a husky or a wildcat?” The answer was a wildcat, of course. That is why I chose Kentucky.” Terrence Jones is nothing if not a logical man.
How Will Terrence Jones Get to Lexington?
Terrence Jones has been described by many to be the perfect fit for Coach Cal’s patented dribble drive motion offense. Speaking of driving, you may or may not know Terrence is in the process of finalizing his plans for his cross-country trip from the always rainy Portland, Oregon to his future residence where the sun shines bright at his new Coal Kentucky Home. With the help of his travel agent Lorenzo Romar, Terrence has mapped out several stops along the way. Throughout making his travel plans Terrence has gone back and forth multiple times on where he should or should not play (I mean visit). Rest assured that when he is packing he will not forget his flip flops.
The first stop on his trip was to be right in his own back yard in Eugene, Oregon to visit his friend and recruiter extraordinaire Kenny Payne. Unfortunately, for the Nike Ducks, Jones no longer plans on making this stop as Payne has come up missing from Eugene. A local newspaper article made mention of Payne joining in a new great migration from the west coast towards a resurrected basketball Mecca in Lexington, KY. As a result, a reunion of old friends will not take place until the end of this trip.
The next stop along the way is in Seattle, Washington to say goodbye (or talk some mess, whatever that means) to some old friends and return a hat to the campus bookstore that just was not the right fit and color scheme. While at the bookstore he also has to return some merchandise that was purchased for a friend of his from Turkey. Both Jones and his Turkish buddy really liked the Washington hats at first, but (wait for it)…….. In the end those hats just left them feeling Blue!
The third stop along the road to Rupp has Jones making a pull off in the land of the Big 10, Big 12, Pac-10, Big Sky, SWAC or whatever the home of the Jayhawk’s would have become. I am keeping all of these scenarios alive because I liked it better when Kansas was going to become a mid-major. Jones had planned to visit with Coach Self to thank him for an his prior all expenses paid trip to Lawrence. However, Self will not be available due to an impromptu trip to Texas. While Self is in Austin he can be reached at Rick Barnes residence handing out Dutch Rutters as thanks for the Longhorns not sending his team and career into the abyss. According to the world wide leader Coach Rick Barnes has removed his name from consideration to be the next BP chief executive officer.
The last stop for Jones before he hits Lexington will be to visit the Greatest college sports town in America. You may not know this about our future power forward but he is thinking about becoming a lawyer once his hardwood days are over. As a result, Jones thought what better way to see how the law works and the dark side of college basketball than by taking in this summer’s blockbuster Pitino v. Sypher. That case will be immediately followed by the case of why you should never use a hairbrush in Da Ville.
Overall, this trip will be a whirlwind for Terrence and one that he will not soon forget. I believe Jones has scheduled another press conference from his high school to announce where he plans to eat dinner along the way. It will be streamed live online with a sweet boom box providing background beats.
Jones had hoped to make a few more stops along the way, but he has to get to Lexington and catch a flight to Windsor. The team’s trip to Windsor will serve as a chance for the Cats to get some much needed practice and real game situations during the off-season. The goals of the coaching staff is to use this time to help the team build chemistry, bond and get their drink on since the legal age is 19.
I imagine Eloy Vargas and Jorts are probably hoping that Terrence somehow takes a wrong turn and cannot find Lexington before next season begins. In the end, Jones could end up becoming the Cats most important piece of the puzzle. He provides versatility and the ability to play inside the paint and out on the wing. So I say “Welcome to Kentucky Terrence Jones! You made the right choice. The second time!”
TheHipster tackles… Terrence Jones
One of the most strange/interesting/rewarding recruitments in history ended with the Cats landing another one of the nation’s top high school basketball players of 2010: the one and only Terrence Jones. Let’s take a look at what exactly makes him such a baller, in every sense of the term.
Next year’s virally-spread dance phenomenon?
Anatomy of a Star:
Every great basketball recruit has one thing in common — the ability to perform at a high level on the court. The number one prerequisite for that is a human body. Thanks to his anatomy, Jones’ skill set fits perfectly into UK’s current offense and makes him a killer off the dribble and down low, not to mention a defensive force and good shooter. No player in this class is better suited for Coach Cal’s system. Breaking down Terrence Jones’ bag of bones proves he has what it takes to become a superstar under Calipari.
Height — He stands at both 6’8 (Rivals) and 6’9 (Scout and ESPN). Jones, obviously, has the ability to grow or shrink an inch on demand. This allows him to trick defenders before he shoots and surprise the opposing offense before he swats their stuff into the stands.
Length — Like his height, his length is adjustable. An untrained eye may not notice because of the sleeve, but bioengineers have equipped his left arm with a device akin to the Terminator, allowing him to stretch it absurd distances (the West Coast has it all, y’all).
Left-handedness — Everyone knows lefties are better at everything except sucking at sports. His shooting ability is increased because of this, along with his sick handle for being such a tall kid.
Big mouth – This lets him talk extra smack to on-court villains and fans alike, which may or may not result in crazy people calling his cell-phone or Louisville fans calling for his arrest.
Terrence is more than just a body, though. This young man has a fully functioning brain, making Ron Artest toss and turn in bed each night from jealousy (Watch out for that open Hennessey bottle, Ron-Ron).
Thinking Man’s Game:
Like any sane fan, I going to go ahead and assume Jones obtained a perfect score on his SAT/ACT and graduated with honors. Apart from that, let the man speak for himself (via twitter.com/terrencejones1) when his comes to his mental prowess.
Terrence Jones is a(n)…
Food connoisseur— “Bout ta get some Roscoe’s sooo hungry.” “Eating at Dennys with the homies.”
Music theorist — “I wonder what the rap game would be like today with tupac and bigger still alive.” (Also, sources say he listened to The Clash’s 1982 gem, Combat Rock, during the entirety of the spring signing period.)
Yoda fan — “On the line my name is.”
Painter — “oooo i like red.”
Botanist — “Yeah I gotta get back to my city I miss the roses and all that.”
Traveler/Chiller — “imma get out this house and get somewere.” “Ya boi at the beach cruzzing.” “Chilling in LA with my last couple days to chill.”
Illusionist — “magic is sooo cold.”
Responsible party in the demise of Kentucky Kingdom — “Yeah I killed six flags did it all.”
‘Wow’ is probably the only way to describe the well-roundedness of our newest Kentucky Wildcat. With so many interests and so many accomplishments under his belt, he undoubtedly touched the lives of many… which is precisely why I decided to grab a few testimonials.
The Crowd Speaks:
As is widely known, Terrence Jones found himself torn between two schools: Washington and Kentucky. He committed to UW (accidentally? on a whim?), but realized the error of his ways and decided to come to UK, where he will almost certainly guarantee himself a better future in the NBA. Both fan bases have been outspoken, so I thought it best to give a few high profile diehards from each group a chance to speak on Terrence.
(“Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.”)
Keith Cobalt — Seattle, Washington:
“I once ran into Terrence at this really neat flannel/holy-jeans shop downtown. Upon realizing the absence of flat-bills in the store, he headed for the exit. I hurried over to stop him and ask for his autograph/tell him to go to UDub. He smiled and thanked me, declining my offer for a cup of coffee as he opened his umbrella to venture into the rain. I was upset when he reneged and chose UK, but then I popped some lithium. No biggie. Hey, did you know Nate Robinson went to Washington? And…uhm…Spencer Hawes? Isn’t it soooo zany that we had a guy named Quincy Pondexter on our team this year?”
Ashlee Jedson — Franklin, Tennessee:
“Jones is SUCH a darlin’. He has got that soft demeanor but ferocious game that make me smile knowing he is with us. Just like most of my fellow UK fans, I watched YouTube videos of him for about two hours straight prior to his announcement. Needless to say, I was appalled with the initial result. Thank the Lord that he saw the light and picked the Cats. If he hadn’t, well, then, I probably would have tracked him down via his art purchases like I did Nick Parsons and give him a piece of my mind.”
That, my friends, is Terrence Jones in a nutshell (probably pistachio says my intuition). He will be a phenomenal freshman who flourishes under Calipari, donning the Kentucky uniform in a way that will make us all proud. Many experts, as well as other people who think way too highly of their opinion, compare him to Lamar Odom. I disagree, if only to hold out hope that he actually shows up for NBA playoff games and never marries some chick’s uglier sister.
Terrence Jones: Is He, or Isn’t He?
To say that we’ve heard a lot about Terrence Jones over the past couple of months would be an understatement on par with saying this guy looks a little bit like a Jewish Shrek. In fact, I’d say that one of the more remarkable things about Jones is the hype he has been able to produce in a relatively limited amount of time. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that, while Jones might have been Calipari’s most coveted player in the 2011 class (and apparent man-crush of one Matt Jones), he is hardly the headliner of the class (Brandon Knight), nor does he show the signs of being the charismatic fan-favorite (The UnderKanter). So what gives? What do we really know about Terrence Jones that makes him so exciting? What are the unanswered questions for him going into the season? What does he add to the team that nobody else can bring? Without further ado, I thought it might be fun to profile Jones by playing a little is he, or isn’t he?
1. Is he or isn’t he related to Matt Jones?
I know – I was surprised, too. While Matt Jones has been publically quoted as saying that TJ is his “brotha’ from anotha’ motha’”, Terrence Jones has denied this claim from day one.
2. Is he or isn’t he committed to the Washington Huskies?
He isn’t. He is. He isn’t. He kind of is. He thinks he is. His high school coach thinks he is. Terrence Ross says he is. He isn’t.
But sources say he WILL be keeping the free hat.
3. Is he or isn’t he the most important piece of the 2011 puzzle?
While an argument could obviously be made for Knight or Kanter, the reality is that Terrence Jones has the size, skill set, and speed that make him the perfect four man for next year’s Cats. It is a little tired at this point to say that Jones was practically made for Calipari’s system, but the reason everyone keeps saying it is because it is true. With Jones at the four, the dribble-drive goes from being an occasional option (like it was last year) to THE primary offense – which is great considering that the excitement of the DD system is one reason recruits choose Calipari over Lorenzo Romar other prominent college coaches.
4. Is he or isn’t he the next Black Kool-Aid?
Simply put – there is only one Patrick Patterson; and frankly, other than the fact that they play the same position, there don’t seem to be many similarities between the two. Patterson had to adjust his game drastically to fit into Cal’s system (which he did, quite beautifully), and likewise, Patterson was so important that Cal’s system had to adjust to fit him. Jones has the advantage of being a ready-made cog in the machine, but he also has the disadvantage of following a legend in P Pat. Matt has warned fans repeatedly that we shouldn’t compare Brandon Knight to John Wall; and I think it is equally unfair to compare Jones to Patterson. Patterson was a once-in-a-generation player that UK fans will tell their kids and grandkids about. Jones is most likely a one-and-done. He will have a great impact next year, but it is doubtful that his legacy will be anything like Patterson’s – and we shouldn’t expect it to be.
5. Is he or isn’t he going to be a “good character” guy?
I’ve heard a lot of grumblings about the way Jones handled his recruitment. Some have accused him of being a spotlight grabber, others have said he was dishonest with coaches at one or more schools along the way. But I think people are quick to forget how confusing it is to be an 18 year-old kid. And I don’t know about you, but when I was 18, I didn’t have anywhere near the pressure on me that Jones has on him. Did he like the attention? Probably. Was he intentionally deceitful, arrogant, self-centered, etc.? I really don’t think so. If you want a real indicator of character, look at how he is viewed by the people closest to him. His high school coach thinks the world of him, and it appears that Jones’ biggest hang-up on not initially choosing the Cats was his bond with his best friend, Terrence Ross. Unless some unknown character issues surface next year, fans need to give Jones a pass on what was admittedly an awkwardly handled recruitment.
6. Is he or isn’t he on Twitter?
And you can follow him @TerrenceJones1 where you can get insightful gems like:
“Eating at Dennys with the homies” and “Ya boi at the beach cruzzing.”
Seriously, following our Cats on Twitter is a great way to show support, so unless your name is Mark Hamilton, go get your follow on.
So what does this post really tell you? Not a lot other than Terrence Jones is going to be an integral part of what should be a really fun, talented 2011-12 basketball team. Enjoy him while you’ve got him – we’ve got 358 days until the 2011 NBA draft.
Where Terrence Jones Almost Went to School
When the Cats play an exhibition game in Ontario, Canada just two months from now, Kentucky fans will get their first official look at freshman Terrence Jones — at least I’m pretty sure he’ll be there. Back on April 30th, with nearly 25,000 people watching online, Jones verbally committed to play basketball at the University of Washington. By now, most of you are familiar with how Jones ended up at Kentucky. What you may have missed, though, is that Jones nearly announced his decision to go to Kansas.
In case you need a refresher, here’s how we got to this point: Billed as a “6’9” point guard” with Lamar Odom-like skills, Terrence Jones averaged thirty points and thirteen rebounds a game this past season while leading Portland’s Jefferson High School to its third straight Class 5A Oregon state championship. Heavily recruited, Jones narrowed his list of suitors to six schools: UCLA, Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington. Despite initially saying that his goal was to “get it done early,” Jones’s recruitment seemed to drag on for months as Jones left everyone in the dark about his plans. As Dave Telep, national recruiting director for Scout.com, would say, “This dude is like CIA with his deal. I don’t even think his mom knows.” Turns out, this may have been intentional. While Jones would later get pounded by criticism in the media for hogging the spotlight, Jones intended the opposite. In his mind, the longer he could get coaches to come see him play, the more likely his teammates would get noticed.
Then came the press conference. At a table in his high school gym, Jones sat behind six hats representing the six schools recruiting him. Jones talked about each school. He talked about each coach. Jones talked for five minutes before finally admitting that “no one knows [where I’m going to go] … because I haven’t made a decision yet.” Deciding right then and there, Jones displayed a move that he most likely perfected on the basketball court, faking left to reach for the Kansas hat then going right to pick the Washington hat, much to the delight of everyone in attendance.
We all know that only a few weeks later, Jones would sign a financial aid letter from Kentucky and note that he was 95% sure that he had made a final decision. At the time, though, Husky fans had good reason for their delight. A Parade and McDonald’s All-American, Terrence Jones is ranked ninth overall in his class by ESPN and eighth by Scout.com. Rivals’ head scout Jerry Meyer lists Jones as a prototypical skilled 4-man, who can operate inside and on the perimeter. Put simply, Jones is a power forward that can dribble. His versatile game is perfectly suited for the transition into Calipari’s “dribble drive” offense from his “Let’s Just Let John Wall Figure It Out” approach. Fittingly, Jones possesses the kind of clutch shooting that Kentucky enjoyed from Wall last season. In the midst of a cold shooting night during the Oregon state tournament in 2009, Jones nailed a last-second fade away jumper to win his team’s quarterfinal game over the tournament’s top seed.
In an interview after his press conference, Jones acknowledged that he never actually made up his mind until the moment he chose a hat. “I wanted to surprise everyone, but I didn’t know at the end that I wouldn’t know myself,” said Jones. This, at least, explains why Jones did a double take in making his selection. After all, Jones later said his decision came down to just two schools, Washington and Kentucky. Wait a minute, you might ask, didn’t he mean Kansas? No. According to Jones, “I really came close to grabbing that Kentucky hat.”
Look at the video again, right around the 5 minute mark. It turns out that Jefferson High School Athletic Director Mitch Whitehurst, who bought the hats before the press conference, purchased both a “UK” hat and a “KU” hat. Apparently unbeknownst to Jones, at his moment of truth, he almost grabbed the KU hat by mistake. So, while Kentucky fans were kicking themselves for missing out on a five star recruit, picture the alternative: a confident Jones announces his intention to play for Coach Calipari at the University of Kentucky … all while wearing a Kansas hat.
Living outside Kentucky for seven years, I was asked countless times “How does KU look this year?” or “when does KU play?” or “why is Sheray Thomas trying to leave the free throw line?” These are understandable errors, and so too was Jones’s initial decision to become a Husky. Thankfully, neither error stuck and I am at least 95% sure that Kentucky fans can look forward to seeing Terrence Jones wearing blue and white this August. When he does, we’re sure to see a special talent.
All solidly written posts, and all different takes on Jones. I’m torn on Kyle Morrison’s faux-interview, because while the fake-interview angle isn’t one we normally take ’round here, the writing actually made me laugh out loud (“Everybody knows that you should really be afraid of the Chupacabra. Thank God he lives in Texas.”). So while I wasn’t crazy about the angle, I’d like to see more of his writing. I really could say something similar about Chris Thomas’ “The Hipster Tackles” piece, which I enjoyed — but think it could have been stronger if he’d taken on one of these facets and had fun with it instead of shoehorning so much into one piece. At the end it seemed to fall apart a bit, even though the quotes had clever elements. Nice way to integrate the Twitter comments, too. Nathan Gower came out of the gate controversially with an eye-opening first line (wow, the “Jewish Shrek?”), but I really like his “is/isn’t” premise — sometimes the best bits come from something simple that can go places, which I think this can. I think it could have been executed slightly better, but it worked very well nonetheless. While all these silly shenanigans were going on from his colleagues, Adam Reeves brings the good stuff, shining through with simple, organic, crisp and non-gimmicky writing, and what started out as a piece I thought was going to be rather plain turned out to be a really strong and engaging read. Steve Shaw rounds out the group with a unique take which had me scratching my head a few times. It was all over the map, and a little too schticky. Steve had some great lines, but a lot of them stretched too hard. At the end of the day, though, one must sadly fall. And it’s unfortunately going to be Steve Shaw’s cavalcade of wackiness. Steve’s an able, strong writer — but this one just didn’t do it for me. Because of that, this has to be goodbye. But this doesn’t mean we don’t still love him.
That said, here go my rankings:
1. Adam Reeves
2. Chris Thomas
3. Kyle Morrison
4. Nathan Gower
5. Steve Shaw
Round of applause for Steve Shaw. Sorry to see you go, buddy. And we move on to the next heat, right here tomorrow evening. Stay tuned.