Kentucky coach John Calipari has been shouting from the rooftops for the last couple weeks that sophomore Terrence Jones might be the best player in the nation, and in the team’s Blue-White scrimmage Wednesday night at Rupp – a big deal in Lexington; over 12,000 fans showed – Jones went for a school-record 52 points.
For the last seven months, the story with Kentucky and Calipari has been the ballyhooed freshman class, which is easily the country’s best. But Jones, the best holdover from a team that lost by one to UConn in the Final Four, will be the key. I’m looking forward to his Nov. 15th date with Kansas junior Thomas Robinson, and then make sure you’re in front of a TV Dec. 3 for round three of UNC/Kentucky. Jones labored through a 3-for-17 game last December against the Tar Heels in a UNC win; the Wildcats won a fantastic Elite 8 game rematch but Jones wasn’t much of a factor with a modest 11 points, seven rebounds and four turnovers.
Jones got off to a fast start as a freshman before fading late (and beefing with Calipari mid-season). His 52 points Wednesday came largely against two freshman. I’m a big Jones fan – what’s not to love about an inside-outside lefty who is 6-foot-9? – but inconsistency dogged him last year as Brandon Knight took over the team down the stretch. Jones has to be on any preseason All-American list you’re putting together (1st or 2nd team will suffice).
The season begins in two weeks.