Terrence Jones signs with Kentucky
Portland prep basketball star Terrence Jones will play for Kentucky, according to the Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal. Jones committed to Washington at a news conference at his high school three weeks ago.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Kentucky 2, Washington 0.
The Wildcats reached across the country and into the Pacific Northwest, snatching yet another heralded recruit away from the Huskies.
Last month it was Turkish-born Enes Kanter, the five-star prospect, who verbally committed to UW in November.
On Wednesday, it was multiskilled Terrence Jones, the 6-foot-9 McDonald's All-American forward from Portland's Jefferson High, who pledged his loyalty to the Huskies on April 30 during a news conference at his school.
Flanked by his parents that day, Jones wore a black tuxedo and picked a black UW hat from a collection that included Kentucky, UCLA, Oregon, Kansas and Oklahoma.
A small gathering of family, friends and faculty erupted in cheers and no one was happier than his mother, Linda Mashia-Jones, and Terrence Ross, a longtime friend and former high school teammate, who signed with Washington.
Within minutes, the celebration grew somber because Jones chose not to sign a binding national letter of intent and he was visibly upset after a telephone conversation with Kentucky coach John Calipari.
Jones later said he called all five coaches of the schools he didn't choose.
Still, it was the talk with Calipari that moved him the most, according to Jones family members, and over the next three weeks he considered reneging on his commitment and choosing Kentucky.
Several of Jones' advisers, including Ross, Jefferson coach Pat Strickland and athletic director Mitch Whitehurst, believed Jones would remain committed to the Huskies.
Mashia-Jones reportedly said Jones took a trip to Washington and visited with coach Lorenzo Romar on Tuesday.
Speculation rose that Jones would sign with the Huskies on Wednesday night, however, the lure of the Wildcats' program was too much for Washington to overcome.
"Glitz and glamour won out," Strickland said.
Few teams can successfully recruit against a storied program such as UK, which attracts courtside celebrities such as actress Ashley Judd, musician Drake and NBA superstar LeBron James.
And few coaches recruit as aggressively as Calipari, one of the most charismatic coaches in the country.
"The way he recruits, he's like an agent," Ross said. "He's really, really good. Plus, he's a good coach."
Calipari's track record of producing NBA talent (Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and John Wall) is undeniable. Before securing Jones, the top recruiting services ranked Kentucky's incoming class among the top three in the country.
According to the Louisville Courier-Journal and Scout.com, Jones signed a nonbinding financial aid package just like Brandon Knight, another UK recruit. This approach allows both players to break the agreement and sign recruiting papers with another school without penalty.
Wednesday was the last day of the signing period for the 2010 class.
"I'm not sure there's many advantages — or any advantage — for a kid to sign a letter of intent this late in the game," Scout.com recruiting analyst Evan Daniels said. "What if — I'm not saying this is going to happen — but what if John Calipari decided he wanted to leave?
"Then he (Jones) would have to go through the process of getting out of his letter of intent. So this could be a trend. We'll just have to wait and see."
The Calipari-to-the-NBA rumors continue to run rampant, so there's a chance Jones could end up at Washington.
For now, though, the Huskies must cope with losing the two-time Oregon Class 5A Player of the Year, which is a major recruiting defeat.
The Huskies end the recruiting season much like they began it: missing on a prized recruit. In November, Washington hoped to land Kentwood High star big man Joshua Smith who chose UCLA.
The Huskies signed Desmond Simmons, a 6-7 forward from Richmond, Calif., junior college transfer Aziz N'Diaye, a 7-foot center from Dakar, Senegal, and Ross.
Jones would have elevated a recruiting class described as "solid" into the top 25 in the country, Daniels said.
With Jones, the Huskies might have been the early preseason favorite to win the Pac-10 conference title and many believe they were poised to make another deep run in the NCAA tournament.
Last year, UW (26-10) finished in the Sweet 16 and ranked No. 21 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.
The team lost one starter, senior Quincy Pondexter, and two reserves, Elston Turner and Clarence Trent, who chose to transfer.
Several college basketball analysts rank Washington between No. 7-23 in preseason polls.
The higher rankings hinged upon the Huskies signing Jones, who is rated the eighth-best senior by Scout.com. He's ranked ninth by ESPNU and 13th by Rivals.com.
Jones averaged 32 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three blocks as a senior while leading Jefferson to a third straight state championship last season.
He was expected to replace Pondexter in a lineup, but now a handful of players including Simmons will contend for the starting job.
Jones didn't return messages Wednesday, but in a post on his Twitter account he said: "Either way 1 fan base was gonna hate me ... sooo how much (would) u care?"
Washington could face Kentucky next season in the Maui Invitational in November.
The schools have never had much of a rivalry on the court, but they've clashed in the recruiting arena the past several weeks.
The Huskies and Wildcats will continue their recruiting feud in the coming months.
This time the prize is Garfield junior sensation Tony Wroten Jr., a top-five prospect and a bigger recruit than Jones and Kanter. Wroten lists UW and UK among his favorites.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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