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Originally published May 20, 2010 at 10:01 PM | Page modified May 21, 2010 at 9:10 PM

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Steve Kelley

Prep basketball star Terrence Jones has shown immaturity during recruiting process

The problem isn't that Terrence Jones chose Kentucky. Where the prep basketball star went wrong was announcing at a news conference last month he had chosen Washington.

Seattle Times staff columnist

Hoop News: McDonald's All-American Terrence Jones, 6 feet 9, from Portland's Jefferson High School, has chosen to play basketball at the University of Kentucky after earlier calling a news conference to say he was playing at Washington.

Yo, Terrence!

First of all, congratulations on your decision to play basketball at the University of Kentucky. Your choice guarantees the Wildcats the best recruiting class in the country.

It also means you're about to embark on an incredible thrill ride. There are very few places in the country that love college basketball the way Kentucky does.

Since you're from Portland, think about the attention given to the Trail Blazers and multiply it by about 1,000. That's Kentucky Wildcats basketball.

About the only gig that is better for an athlete than being a basketball player in the Bluegrass State is being a former Kentucky Derby winner living the lush life at Claiborne Farm.

But Terrence, you screwed up and you no longer can hide behind the excuse that you're only 18 and just a kid. It's time to start acting like a grown-up.

You jacked around a lot of people for a long time. You played an immature shell game with those six college hats you placed in front of you at the news conference you held at your high school last month.

Judging by your recent tweets, you still don't understand the idea of a commitment. But let me tell you, when you picked up that black Washington cap at that charade of a news conference, you made a commitment.

With the TV cameras rolling and college basketball fans from the Appalachians to the Cascades watching, you indicated to coach Lorenzo Romar and a Washington staff that was honest with you in the recruiting process that you were going to be a Husky.

Then you changed your mind.

Yo, Terrence! If you make a statement at a news conference, you're supposed to honor it. There's a responsibility that come with calling a news conference. It isn't some whimsical event. It's serious business.

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I'm sure your post-conference phone call to Kentucky coach John Calipari didn't help the situation. At the time, I thought that calling Calipari was a touch of class. You turned it into a touch of weakness.

I'm sure Coach Cal slick-talked you into postponing a final choice. I'm sure he preyed on your immaturity.

Look, I'm not saying you shouldn't have chosen Kentucky. I'm saying you shouldn't have called a news conference, soaked up all that glory, then quickly backpedaled from your decision.

And if you change your mind, you don't spend a month hovering in "Twitter world," tweeting and teasing people, wavering between Washington and Kentucky.

You leveraged one school against the other, and obviously you enjoyed the national attention you attracted. You were the last blue-chipper standing and you bathed in the buzz.

But let me tell you, if you crave attention, wait until you go 3 for 15 against Tennessee. Or wait until you miss an open three at the buzzer at South Carolina.

You want attention? You will get more attention than you could possibly handle. You'll be cooked on the blogs like beef barbecue.

Oh yeah, and there's the matter of your new coach's wandering eye. Speaking of leveraging, it seems Coach Cal always is coaching one team and romancing another. Even now it appears he's got one foot in the bluegrass and one on West Madison Street.

Who knows if he'll even be there for you? There are more than a few whispers that say he will wind up in Chicago and "recruit" LeBron James to the Bulls.

That's why you signed financial-aid papers instead of a letter of intent. If Coach Cal does what Coach Cal always does and leaves another program high and dry, you've at least given yourself an out.

You can leave if he leaves. You aren't tied down by a letter of intent.

But if you leave, don't expect to come to Washington. My guess is, Romar has had enough of your false promises. He'll take the players who want to be at Washington and win with them.

So congratulations, Terrence. But you better live up to the expectations of the crazed Wildcats fans or they will spit you out like so much bad barbecue.

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or skelley@seattletimes.com

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About Steve Kelley

Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation.
skelley@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2176

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