Jones Waits to Sign UW LOI, but Stays Committed to Washington
Prized Washington 2010 recruit Terrence Jones committed to Washington in front of a gym full of friends, fans and media members at his high school in Portland last Friday. They were joined by a handful of fellow Jefferson High seniors that prior to Jones in the ceremony announced their college intentions or at least current prospects. Also on hand were 25,000 pairs of eyes as Oregon Live, the online arm of the Oregonian, broadcast the event in a live web cast.
Shortly after Jones announcement complete with his putting a Husky baseball cap on his head and giving his reasons for choosing the Dawgs, somehow he got on the phone with Kentucky Coach John Calipari. After a 15-minute phone conversation in which Percy Allen of the Seattle Times stated showed Jones to have a pained look on his face, Jones did not sign a letter of intent, as his childhood friend and longtime hoop buddy Terrence Ross did after his announcement.
What did Calipari say? I doubt it will ever be recanted by either party, but it is safe to assume that it was not, ‘Congratulations Terrence and thank you for giving me the chance to tell you about what we do’. “Coach Cal” probably also did not say, ‘If you change your mind and decommit, please call me’. I am not the only one who is skeptical of Calipari.
David Whitely of Fanhouse called John the “Al Capone of college basketball” in a scathing critique of the current state of affairs at Kentucky.
The Seattle Times’ Steve Kelley put his own more localized spin on what Calipari appears to have done behind the scenes to muddy the water of the Jones announcement to Washington.
“It happened at Massachusetts. It happened at Memphis. Some day it probably will happen at Kentucky.”
There are still those that believe that what John does is just good old fashioned American free market competition and clever industriousness. Mike Decourcy of the Sporting News defends Calipari and states that all of the suspicion that surrounds the Kentucky program as well as his stints at UMass and Memphis can be dismissed as rumors.
In regards to Jones, at this point he remains committed, but according to the Oregonian he is not yet willing to sign.
“I’m still committed to Washington, but I’m not willing to sign anything at this point.”
One of the reasons that Jones gave at his press conference for picking the UW was that it was an “Established program” without many off the court issues. Since Coach Romar just agreed to a 10-year contract extension, what better way for Calipari to counter than with one of his own? ESPN reported that the Kentucky AD has offered Calipari with his own 10-year deal worth approximately $40 Million dollars.
It’s hard to see whether UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart is complicit in some kind of shell game or just as duped by Calipari as the next bozo, but this contract in my opinion has done nothing to reverse John’s interest in a plan to move into the NBA at some opportune time. Despite all kinds of major national press from “Coach Cal” including the new UK contract spin, the Chicago Bulls appear to be definitely talking to him. According to well placed sources (they saw the two leaving a Chicago Restaurant on Thursday after lunch) Calipari was seen in Chicago with Bulls Owner Jerry Reinsdorf.
Calipari was also asked in the press if he tries to change a player’s mind if they commit to another school. He answered that he does not do that, but numerous sources in contact with Terrence Jones have confirmed to us that this has not been true. The word is that Calipari, along with surrogates like William “Worldwide Wes” Wesley and a number of others from Cal’s multi level team have been hard after Jones and his family over this past week.
We are hearing and I believe in to be true that this activity has caused some very difficult situations within the Jones family as well. I feel that Calipari and his machine are very bad for the game and should be punished by the NCAA. Despite the fact that the Jones letter is still not signed, the Dawgs class with the addition of both “Terrences” was termed “Elite” by ESPN.
Even with the full court press of Calipari, his high school coach feels that Washington is still the “Front runner” for Jones.
Recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer of Rivals muddied the water a bit more though this past week by reporting that Jones was back to undecided, despite the Oregonian reports. He quoted Jones as wanting to think about it more and has not changed his story since to validate either Jones statement that he is still committed to Washington or his coach’s statement that he will likely end up there.
“I’m still not sure yet who I’m going to sign with. I just wasn’t sure and basically picked on the spot. My mom said I needed to think about it some more.”
Terrence Ross ventured a guess on KJR-AM Radio in Seattle this past week that he felt that Jones would end up at Washington and that Calipari’s style is similar to that of an agent, but the pressure keeps up from the Kentucky machine.
Former UK star player Tony Delk hard sold Jones on his Facebook page along with hundreds of fans, many from Kentucky urging him to come to Lexington.
“man, im a fan wherever you decide to go. and i wish you luck in all your endeavors, but i wouldnt be part of the big blue nation if i didnt say we didnt want ya bad in KENTUCKY! you have the best chance of going pro, the most scouts watching you on any given night, and 25,000 screaming fans at every home game with live television coverage, …”
Some Husky fans are not sold on waiting for Jones. John McGrath of the Morning News Tribune stated that Terrence would be in a better spot to play the role of a “One and done” guy at Kentucky.
“My advice to Lorenzo Romar: Move on. Jones’ commitment to the Huskies, on a day when it seemed as if the whole world was watching, lasted, what, an hour? If Jones wavers after one hour, is it reasonable to presume he’ll donate his blood, sweat and tears to the Huskies for as long as three years?”
McGrath brought up the experience of Spencer Hawes at Montlake to illustrate how “One and done” players are not a good fit for the UW program. I disagree with McGrath. I thought the opposite to be true. I feel that “One and done” players can be a good fit for Lorenzo, who knows the reality of the NBA 1st hand. I thought however that Hawes choices, albeit he was just a teenager, were not good, especially that of leaving after one year in my opinion prematurely.
There is a lot of talk on the internet, including some very insightful information (if I do say so myself) on my subscription only site at Husky Digest, about Kentucky’s lack of concern for the education of its stream of “One and done” players and others in the basketball program and it is not without base.
The Lexington Herald Leader reported that Kentucky had a team wide GPA for fall semester of 2.025, the worst of all of the schools in the SEC that reported and well below competitors like Louisville, Kansas and Duke by almost a full point.
One reason, but not at all an excuse for such a poor academic showing, was the “One and done” players, that likely were just biding their time for basketball season and will likely show even worse in Spring Quarter. Surprisingly and possibly because of a number of important raised questions as to the propriety of it, John Wall did not sign with Lebron James Agency, rather with LA based Dan Fegan, who represents among others Jrue Holiday.
One would maybe think that this could be a case of a player leaving the “Family”, which includes “Worldwide Wes”, Lebron James and of course Nike. It is interesting to note however that all of Fegan’s clients that I could find, including Holiday were sponsored by Nike. Since Holiday came up through the adidas chain at UCLA, it may be that he broke away from that when he decided to leave the Bruins amongst rumored talk of being dissatisfied with Ben Howland and his system.
Most of the former Bruins are sponsored by adidas and the question needs to be asked. Did Wall move over to another agent in the Nike “Family” in a cloud of PR smoke?
As the end of the Spring Signing Period draws near, it appears that Washington is in good shape with Jones, but that Calipari is still lurking and plotting. Kentucky bloggers have speculated that Jones has silently committed to UK, but is waiting for a neat way to avoid the backlash of changing his mind after such a convincing public display in his high school and on the internet.
I don’t know exactly what to think at this point, but I would lean to believing that he will end up at Washington based on numerous sources with access to info from a number of angles. It is not over until it’s over though and UW could end up going with another option possibly if things drag out and an attractive possibility materializes.