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Originally published May 18, 2010 at 7:40 PM | Page modified May 19, 2010 at 8:23 PM

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High-school coach says he thinks Terrence Jones will sign with Huskies on Wednesday

Jefferson High star Terrence Jones told The Oregonian he will sign a letter of intent on Wednesday. His high-school coach, Pat Strickland, said he expects Jones to sign with the Huskies.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Since verbally committing to the Huskies nearly three weeks ago, standout basketball recruit Terrence Jones has been hounded by two questions.

When is he going sign a national letter of intent? And will he follow through with his commitment and play for Washington or choose Kentucky, which is second among his list of favorites?

Jones, a McDonald's All-American and five-star prospect at Portland's Jefferson High, answered the first question Tuesday night telling The Oregonian he was definitely going to sign Wednesday, which is the last day of the signing period for the 2010 class.

Jefferson coach Pat Strickland shed light on the second question that has captivated fans on Montlake and in Lexington, Ky.

"I've been talking with him the last couple of days — with him and his mom — and he told me he'll get it done (Wednesday), and in my opinion, I think he'll choose Washington," Strickland said Tuesday night. "Kentucky is a great institution, but I just think at the end of the day Terrence will choose a situation where the guys that are coming back on the team are familiar with winning.

"And that's the unknown factor with Kentucky. Yeah, they've got blue-chip players and everything, but it's still an unknown factor that they're going to pan out on the college level."

Washington lost three players — senior Quincy Pondexter and transfers Elston Turner and Clarence Trent — from a team that finished 26-10 and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. Led by all-Pac-10 guard Isaiah Thomas, the Huskies return four starters.

Kentucky, which lost in the Elite Eight and finished 35-3, restocked the roster with a recruiting class ranked No. 2 in the country by Rivals.com.

Still, it remains to be seen whether the newcomers can replace the five players who declared early for the NBA draft, including starters John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson and Eric Bledsoe. Several other factors made Jones indecisive.

The 6-foot-9 forward and two-time Oregonian Class 5A Player of the Year said he wants to reunite with his former high-school teammate Terrence Ross, a UW signee, remain close to home and play for coach Lorenzo Romar. However, he's also built a close relationship with Kentucky coach John Calipari.

Jones, rated the ninth-best senior prospect by ESPNU, is the highest-ranked recruit who hasn't signed.

"For as long as I've been covering recruiting, I haven't seen a recruitment with this many twists and turns," Scout.com recruiting analyst Evan Daniels said. "I've never seen a kid make a commitment at a press conference and then an hour later change it up a little.

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"This is a unique situation with a unique kid."

Jones set an April 30 deadline to make a decision between Washington, Kentucky, Oregon, UCLA, Kansas and Oklahoma. Jefferson officials organized a news conference at the high school, where Jones selected a black UW baseball cap and committed to the Huskies in front of family members, friends and thousands who watched online.

Several minutes after his decision, Jones' advisers said he began to second guess his decision after a telephone conversation with Calipari.

"I just think it was a tough decision," Strickland said. "I think it would have been tough for any kid with his talent and with the schools he had on the table.

"I know it doesn't normally happen this way, but I think with his talent he just wanted to take his time. There really was no timeline, so he wanted to take his time because his whole life and his future is depending on and riding on this crucial decision."

Jones will sign recruiting papers in private at his Portland home.

No more news conferences, Strickland said.

Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or pallen@seattletimes.com

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