Terrence Jones as of 9:45 p.m. Wednesday had 3,807 followers on Twitter.
Though many of the followers are friends, some became instant enemies of the McDonald’s basketball All-American late Friday afternoon.
That’s when the 6-foot-8 senior forward from Portland (Ore.) Jefferson High orally committed to the University of Washington. He chose the Huskies over Kentucky, Kansas, Oregon, Oklahoma and UCLA.
Oregonian newspaper columnist John Canzano reports that the instant Jones put on a Washington hat at his news conference, “his family began to receive harassing telephone calls from fans of the programs he didn’t pick. Jones’ cellular telephone blew up with angry activity, too.
“Fans at Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA, Oregon and Oklahoma, miffed that Jones didn’t choose their programs, blasted Jones’ social networking sites with insults and slurs that were so offensive his sister instructed him not to read them and went in herself and deleted it all.”
Jones told Canzano: “I saw some of it ... really hurtful stuff.”
Jones — he still has not signed a letter-of-intent, though he remains orally committed to the Huskies, with Kentucky still a possible destination — didn’t single out fans of any particular school for especially boorish behavior.
It seems even some well-meaning posts in days leading up to the Friday news conference rankled the Jones family.
Canzano writes: “One family member told me on Wednesday that irrational and well-meaning fans at the finalist colleges, who believe they’re serving as de facto recruiters, serve as the worst enemy of their respective programs.”
Those online fan/recruiters risk getting their universities in hot water with the NCAA. Such recruiting on social networking sites can be deemed a secondary violation of NCAA rules.
“We strongly discourage anybody associated with KU from creating accounts for the purpose of convincing a prospect to come to KU because there are NCAA rules against it,” KU associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said Wednesday.
“If we were to discover something like that is taking place, we would bring it to the attention of our compliance office.”
If KU’s compliance officers were able to identify an individual recruiting for KU on a player’s social networking site, you can bet a KU administrator would contact that individual pronto.
“You would ask the person to cut it out,” Marchiony said.
KU’s athletic department tried to get the word out last year after a North Carolina State student was rebuked by N.C. State’s administration after the student started a Facebook site, “John Wall Please Come to N.C. State.”
“After the university told the student to take it down, we did an interview to explain our feelings on the issue. We began the education process,” Marchiony said.
Marchiony was pleased to hear that users of a popular KU Internet message board recently asked Facebook officials to take down the site of somebody posing as a KU fan. It seems that “fan” was posting sketchy comments on sites of various prospects considering KU and other schools.
“I’m glad to hear that. It’s an indication our education efforts are working because it sounds like somebody knew it was against the rules,” Marchiony said.
As far as fans posting negative comments on a recruit’s social networking sites once that recruit picks a school, Marchiony can only hope that’s not taking place around Jayhawk Nation.
“We would hope no KU fan would do that, because no recruit or his family deserves that kind of treatment,” Marchiony said. “I’m sure no school wants its school represented like that. I think criticizing a recruit after he announces for another school is just unnecessary, childish behavior.”
His suggestion to anybody thinking about partaking in such activity?
“They should just look at themselves (and say), this is not the way a right-thinking adult should act,” Marchiony said.
By the way, even fans of Jones’ current leader — Washington — have criticized the high school senior.
The Oregonian reports that there were Huskies fans “in the last few days, learning about his possible indecision and blasting away at Jones with, ‘BE A (bleeping) MAN OF YOUR WORD!’ messages.”