Expectations High for Jones
By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
STATS Senior Writer
November 23, 2010
It's easy to see why Terrence Jones was so highly recruited after the way he played in his first game at the Maui Invitational.
Jones and No. 8 Kentucky will take on the school to which he initially committed, then chose not to attend in Tuesday's semifinals against No. 13 Washington, the nation's highest scoring team.
It appeared that Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar had gained a major recruit when Jones made his choice in April, lining up the hats of prospective schools before pulling on one for Washington.
Just a few hours later, Jones was on the phone with Kentucky's John Calipari, saying he had made a mistake. He called Romar, too, expressing concern about his decision.
A month later, Jones had changed his mind completely, agreeing to play for Calipari in Lexington and leaving Huskies fans shocked, though not Romar.
"I remember he was someone who was confused when it was time to make a decision," Romar said. "He set a date for a news conference to announce what he was going to do that (was) I don't know what I'm going to do now, but when the time comes I'll figure it out.
"When the day got there, he still hadn't fully figured it out. Deep down, I think he always wanted to go to Kentucky."
Jones showed why he was coveted in a 76-64 win over Oklahoma on Monday. He dominated inside on his way to 29 points and 13 rebounds.
The 6-foot-9 forward made clear there is no ill will between him and Romar.
"With this tournament, I'm ready to play whoever wins," he told Kentucky's official athletics website. "I do have a lot of friends on that team and me and coach Romar are good friends."
Kentucky (3-0) won the tournament in its first Maui Invitational in 1993, but lost in the semifinals in each of its next three appearances.
"We respect Kentucky's program and the job they do," Romar said. "Terrence Jones is a fantastic basketball player, but we're not coming out there because of any type of rivalry. We're coming out because this is the next opponent and we have to play at a high level."
Washington (3-0) made 17 3-pointers as part of an overwhelming performance Monday in its Maui Invitational debut, a 106-63 rout of Virginia. Isaiah Thomas scored 14 of his 18 points in a first half that ended with the Huskies up by 24.
"We're ready," Thomas said. "The lights are on and we always say the bright lights are fun, so we're ready for whoever our next opponent is, and that's Kentucky."
C.J. Wilcox scored 17 points and fellow freshman reserve Terrence Ross - Jones' teammate last season at Jefferson High School in Portland - chipped in with 12. The Huskies are averaging a Division I-best 107.3 points.
The lone previous meeting between these schools came in the first round of the 1985 NCAA tournament. Kentucky won 66-58.