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By LARRY VAUGHT
Terrence Jones insisted he had not made a decision on where he would attend college as he looked at the hats of the six schools he had narrowed his college list to during a press conference at his Portland, Ore., high school Friday.
Then he broke the hearts of University of Kentucky fans who were among the almost 25,000 watching the press conference online live when he said he would stay closer to home and play at Washington along with teammate Terrence Ross who had confirmed he would play for the Huskies just minutes earlier.
Jones, who had on a sports coat and tie, is a 6-9 forward that could have provided a needed piece for UK coach John CalipariÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s recruiting class. Instead, he opted to stay closer to home just as another highly-regard forward, C.J. Leslie, did earlier in the week when he picked North Carolina State over Kentucky.
Jones thanked his high school coaches, parents, family and teammates for supporting him. He broke down and cried when talking about his teammates and had to be consoled by his mother.
Then he thanked the coaches who had recruited him and went down the list of Kansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, UCLA and Kentucky.
He noted the support the UK fans gave him.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Coach O (Orlando Antigua) for being there for me, calling me when I needed to talk about anything and coach Cal just getting to know me as a player and person. Just trying to make me understand how it would be for me if I went there,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jones said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I want to thank all the coaches for that. I guess now I will be picking one.Ã¢â‚¬Â
ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s when he hesitated before picking the Washington hat and announced he would sign with the Huskies, and not Kentucky. His aunt, Ava Mashia, played for the Huskies women’s team.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I want to be close to home. Like I have been saying since eighth grade, I want o play with Terrence Ross,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jones said.
The 6-9 Jones averaged 32 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, three blocked shots and three stealsÃ‚Â per game. He helped his team win three straight state championships. ESPN ranks Jones among the top 15 players nationally and he was a two-time Oregon Class 5-A player of the year.
Jones scored 810 points his senior season to become the sixth player in Oregon prep history to surpass 800 points in a season. He totaled 1,793 points for his career.
After the season, Jones continued to pile up awards and honors: 5A Portland Interscholastic League player of the year, McDonald’s All-American, Parade All-American, Nike Hoop Summit invitee.
Not signing him is a big blow for Calipari even though he has signed a banner class with point guard Brandon Knight, center Enes Kanter, small forward Stacey Poole and shooting guard Doron Lamb. However, UK is going to be dangerously thin on the front line with only center Josh Harrellson and small forward Darius Miller returning to join Kanter and Poole as true front-court players.
The Wildcats are still recruiting players, including Atlanta forward Marcus Thornton. He likely becomes a top priority for Calipari now to get another needed frontcourt player to go with what he already has.