Former Jefferson High School basketball star Terrence Ross signed a letter of intent with the Huskies. Teammate Terrence Jones announced he would also play for UW, but hasn't signed his letter yet.
PORTLAND — After the celebratory hugs, handshakes and high fives, Terrence Jones huddled with his parents in a far corner, contemplating what had just happened.
A few minutes earlier, the star-studded basketball recruit announced he was attending Washington next season, which sent a small gathering of family, friends and school administrators in the gymnasium at Portland’s Jefferson High into a frenzy.
Once the interviews and photo-ops were completed, Jones wandered to a far corner where he spoke for several long minutes on a cellphone.
A family member said he was breaking the news to Kentucky coach John Calipari, who finished second in the recruiting battle.
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After the call, Jones huddled privately with his parents while the building emptied.
Nearly two hours after the conference began, a few spectators stayed behind hoping to watch Jones sign his letter of intent with Washington until a family member said: “That’s not going to happen today.”
His parents declined to comment, suggesting they would know more Saturday morning.
Jones walked out surrounded by friends leaving many to wonder if he’ll join former high school teammate Terrence Ross, who wore a Washington sweatshirt and baseball cap, and picked UW among a list of suitors that included Kentucky, Kansas, Oregon and Oklahoma.
“I thought that me and Jones were going to hang it up, maybe see each other on TV every once in awhile, but I guess we have more to go through,” said Ross, a 6-foot-5 guard, rated the No. 43 senior in the nation by Rivals.com. “I’m just excited and happy.”
Once Ross made his decision public and signed a national letter of intent at the afternoon news conference, it was Jones’ turn to make a decision.
Flanked by father Dennis Jones and mother Linda Mashia-Jones, the 6-9 forward sat at a table in front of six baseball caps designating the schools on his final list.
From his left to right the caps were: Kansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, UCLA, Washington and Kentucky.
Before choosing, Jones cried a few times while thanking a litany of supporters, including the college coaches who began recruiting him his sophomore year at Jefferson.
Dressed in black tuxedo, black shirt and tie, he reached for the Kansas hat before picking up the black UW cap, which matched his attire.
In the background, Ross leapt with excitement and pumped his fists as Jones embraced his parents.
“I’m pretty much glad this whole recruiting thing is over,” Jones said. “I wouldn’t want to go through it again because for me it had to do with you disappoint more people than you’re making happy.
“It’s just a lot of pressure to put on one person. You hurt thousands of people just as much as you make some people happy.”
Jones, a 6-9 forward and McDonald’s All-American, is rated the No. 9 recruit in the nation by ESPNU and No. 13 by Rivals.com.
He would conceivably slide into the starting-lineup position vacated by departing senior Quincy Pondexter, while Ross adds perimeter firepower.
The Huskies previously signed 6-7 forward Desmond Simmons out of Richmond, Calif. and 7-foot junior college center Aziz N’Diaye from the College of Southern Idaho.
“Terrence Ross is rare in that he possesses a high-level combination of athleticism and is yet an outstanding shooter,” coach Lorenzo Romar said in a statement. “He’s just scratching the surface as how good he can be.
“He will definitely help with us trying to become a better-shooting basketball team. He gives us instant help in that regard. He also has great size and fits right in with what we’re trying to do defensively.”
Jones talked at length about joining a UW team that won the Pac-10 tournament, advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 and may be the 2010-11 preseason conference favorite.
When asked why he chose Washington, he said: “It being close to home and Terrence Ross being there.”
It remains to be seen if proximity and Ross are enough to get Jones to sign with the Huskies.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org