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May 1, 2010 at 11:53 AM

Terrence Jones: “He’s probably a bigger topic of conversation in Kentucky today than the Kentucky Derby”

Sent out a bunch of calls and texts this morning and waiting to hear the latest from Washington recruit Terrence Jones and the folks helping him with his college choice decision.
Still in Portland, but I think I’m heading back to Seattle soon.
I spoke with a handful of folks from Kentucky and it’s interesting to note their take on this whole thing. There’s plenty of speculation going around and nothing solid to report. Still, Wildcats fans are starting to feel optimistic about landing Jones.
Updated – 1:13 p.m. — In a previous post I alluded to an unconfirmed text I received from a D-1 coach who said Kentucky coach John Calipari was in Portland on Friday. Apparently, that’s not true and plenty of Widcats fans have sent me e-mails confirming Calipari was attending a Kentucky Derby event last night.
Here’s a snippet of a long conversation I had with Larry Vaught, the sports editor of The Advocate-Messenger, who covers the Kentucky Wildcats.
(How is this being played out in Lexington, KY?) “I think a lot of confusion and a lot of surprise. The biggest think is Calipari has been so successful in recruiting that Kentucky fans felt he would get anybody he would and when he didn’t get Terrence Jones or C.J. Leslie, it kind of caused a little bit of a shock wave that’s gone through Kentucky. They needed Terrence Jones desperately to complete that recruiting class and get another front court player for next year. So when he didn’t pick Kentucky, it was like wow how did this happen? Now just the possibility that he might be wavering is like renewed the enthusiasm and the interest and everything. He’s probably a bigger topic of conversation in Kentucky today than the Kentucky Derby.”

(Any pressure on Calipari to land Jones because he missed on Leslie?)
“I think just the pressure that Cal puts on himself. I think the fan base is still so ecstatic overall over the differences from the end of the (Billy) Gillispie years to what Cal has done, they’ve kind of convinced themselves that even if he doesn’t t get Jones, we’re still going to be so much better than we were two years ago. But if we do get Jones, we’re going to right back to as good as we were last year. I don’t think the Kentucky fan is putting a lot pressure on Cal or will be terribly disappointed in the recruiting class he’s got. Cal puts a lot pressure on himself when he goes after these kids. I think he puts a lot of pressure on himself to seal the deal and takes a lot of pride in being able to seal the deal. And when he doesn’t, I don’t want to say that he takes is personally, but he does. He kind of takes it personally because he pours his heart and soul into these guys and that’s why I think he’s so successful in getting so many of them.”
(I read your blog earlier this week when you said Jones would pick Kentucky. Were you surprised at what happened Friday?) “Probably just a little bit surprised based on the indicators I was getting I was getting from some folks nationally and around Kentucky that normally knows things pretty well. Not that Jones ever told them yes, but just the fact that he never told them no, I think it led some folks around Kentucky to believe they were going to get him. And I think the coaching believed they had a great relationship with him and his parents. Even though the distance from Oregon to Kentucky is a pretty big thing to overcome, I think they felt they were going to. So yes I thought they were going to get just because of Calipari’s success and the need they have for the spot he plays. You can see easily he would be a starter from the day he signs. From that aspect, I was a little surprised, but not shocked. Being the father of two, I know being close to home is pretty important to a lot of kids.”

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