Oregon prep star Jones looks like all-around prize at Edmundson Pavilion
It was an amazing dream.
Terrence Jones, a 6-foot-9 University of Washington recruiting wish with extraterrestrial basketball powers, graced the court at Edmundson Pavilion on Monday and put on a show that made you understand just how good he’d look in a Huskies jersey.
Showing no emotion, Jones didn’t so much play the game as he dissected it. He influenced the action in every way imaginable, handling both the spectacular and the fundamental with ease, guiding Portland’s Jefferson High School to a 62-58 victory over Federal Way, the finest squad in Washington state.
He is, without question, an ideal talent for the Huskies’ uptempo style. He is position-less or position-full, depending how you view it, a guard in a forward’s body, a player capable of anchoring a defense inside and running an offense in the half-court.
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And since Washington is one of a handful of teams (Kentucky, Oklahoma, Oregon and UCLA are the others) still on Jones’ list, you can close your eyes and envision him showcasing his versatile game in purple and gold.
Wow, he looked like he belonged on this court. He looked like he could help the Huskies right now. En route to 22 points, nine rebounds and eight blocks — his coach, Pat Strickland, said that “his numbers were actually kind of low” — Jones flashed an array of diverse skills during the King Holiday Hoopfest. He was announced as a guard, and during the game, he often led the fast break and helped the Democrats beat the Federal Way press. He owned the paint, especially on defense. His offensive repertoire included power dunks and feathery floaters.
Jones isn’t a super athlete, and that makes him all the more impressive. His game is about skill. If he were 6-foot-2, he’d still have the attention of college recruiters.
Impressed yet? The Huskies certainly are. The coaching staff, including head coach Lorenzo Romar and assistant Jim Shaw, watched Jones closely. They’re so close, at least in theory, to landing a top-20 recruit, a kind of impact player who could complete a very good 2010-11 roster. At the same time, when you’re competing with Kentucky and UCLA for a player, you can never be overconfident.
For what it’s worth, Jones enjoyed his first experience at Hec Ed.
“Yeah, I had some nerves, but I just wanted to win,” Jones said. “I didn’t know what to expect, but it was great. I liked playing here.”
Asked why Washington is one of the five finalists for his services, Jones said: “Every school doesn’t have a coach Romar. He’s such an incredible coach and person, on and off the court. For so many kids, he’s like a father figure. And when I came here for my visit, I realized it’s just a family atmosphere. The players are real close and joke around a lot.”
A crowd of about 5,000 fans saw Jones’ understated game. He’s an interesting player. All eyes can be on him, and he can impress, but you don’t fully grasp how good he is until you look at the stat sheet and realize how completely he affects the game.
In college, some of his versatility will be limited. A good coach will have him focus more on his strengths, but he shouldn’t be stifled. Jones projects to be a perimeter-oriented power forward. It’s where his skills can be best utilized, and with the dearth of big men in today’s game, there’s a demand for long, athletic forwards who play all over the court.
“I have no set position on the team,” Jones said. “I just do whatever coach Strickland says.”
Strickland has come to expect Jones to put up 35 points, grab 18 rebounds and block six shots. So, on Monday, his numbers really were low. But they weren’t any less meaningful.
Most kids in Jones’ situation would’ve forced the issue to prove they’re worthy of the hype. Jones let the game come to him against a good defensive Federal Way squad. He credited the Eagles with making the game difficult for him, but he looked smooth and under control.
“That’s him,” Strickland said. “He thrives off getting his teammates involved. I’ve been surprised he’s scoring a lot this year because he’s so unselfish. He approaches every game the same. He’s a workhorse. He wants to play and battle. And he takes everything in stride. He’s not the type of kid who gets stressed.”
Jones will make his college decision during the spring signing period. There are some rumblings that he might not qualify academically and could enroll in a prep school, but as of now, he plans on attending college next season.
Watching him at Hec Ed on Monday was an amazing dream. With some luck, it might come true.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @Jerry_Brewer