Lorenzo Romar on Washington defections: "It's disappointing"
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar insists he holds no grudge against Kentucky or John Calipari over Terrence Jones and another recruits backing out of verbal commitments, but he understands fans' emotions.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Lorenzo Romar said he's disappointed after losing two top-10 national recruits who committed to Washington, spurning the Huskies and signing with Kentucky.
The UW coach said failing to secure Turkish standout Enes Kanter and Portland star Terrence Jones hurts because he invested a lot of time pursuing them.
"You develop relationship with kids, and in your mind you have a vision with how it's going to work with them in this program and how you're going to help this kid develop and how they're going to help you," he said. "Then, when that changes, it's disappointing.
"When you're recruiting someone and they've never committed to you and they go elsewhere, then that's a part of what we do. But if someone does say, 'I'm picking you, I'm coming with you and we're getting ready to do this together from here on out,' and then if they were to change their mind, it's very disappointing."
Romar had come to grips with losing Kanter, who verbally committed to Washington in November and reopened his recruitment in February when other teams began to show interest. But missing out on Jones, the McDonald's All-American forward from Portland's Jefferson High, is somewhat puzzling.
"I've been doing this 17 years and never been involved in one like this, and I don't know if we ever will again," Romar said. "This was a unique situation."
The coach is still unsure what happened between April 30, when Jones committed to UW, and Wednesday night, when he signed with Kentucky.
"Basically, (he) just couldn't make his mind up," Romar said.
In an interview with The Oregonian, Jones explained why he picked Kentucky.
"I felt like they played a better schedule and had a lot better team," he said.
When asked why he initially chose Washington, Jones said: "A little bit of just not knowing, being close to home. You can't go wrong being that close. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing, not really thinking about it. Picking something just because it was there."
The Jones saga hasn't dissuaded Romar's plans to pursue top-tier prospects in the future.
"This is not something we have to change how we recruit, because this is something that's ongoing," he said. "I don't think this is something that's going to happen every year, if it ever happens again.
"So I'm not scarred by the situation like, 'Wow, we got burned.' "
Washington fans have expressed discontent with John Calipari on message boards and radio, but Romar said he's not upset with the Kentucky coach.
"The fans are on your side. They're pulling for you, and anytime something like that happens, I understand," Romar said. "The fans are competitive and the ones that love their Huskies, I'm with them. I totally understand that.
"I don't personally get into holding a grudge when you lose a recruit to someone."
On his Twitter account, Huskies junior center Matthew Bryan-Amaning said he hopes to play Kentucky, which will join Washington in the Maui Invitational's eight-team field.
"If they want to come out and say that there's more incentive, I totally understand that," Romar said. "I know, for me, you want to play against the best, and Kentucky is one of the best programs out there."
Without Jones, Washington's 2010 class consists of 7-foot center Aziz N'Diaye, 6-5 swingman Terrence Ross and 6-7 forward Desmond Simmons.
"I love this class," Romar said. "Again, you miss out on the last one, and I hope it doesn't take away from what has already taken place."
Washington has 12 players on scholarship; Romar doesn't plan on using the last scholarship this year.
"We're done," he said. "You never know. Three weeks from now someone says, 'Hey, I'm interested in coming out of nowhere,' but there's no one that we see right now."
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