Thursday, May 20, 2010
Seattle The wait is over.
On the last day of the signing period for the 2010 class, Portland, Ore., basketball standout Terrence Jones ended a long and unusual courtship with the Huskies on Wednesday night when he reneged on a verbal committed and signed recruiting papers to play at Kentucky next season.
The Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal reported that Jones signed financial aid scholarship papers. The Wildcats have not made an announcement.
Losing the 6-foot-9 forward and two-time Oregon Class 5A Player of the Year at Jefferson High is another major recruiting defeat for Washington, the second one to Kentucky.
Five-star prospect Enes Kanter, who verbally committed to the Huskies in November, backed away from Washington and signed with Kentucky.
Jones committed to Washington on April 30 at a news conference at his high school, but spent the next 20 days making sure it was the correct decision, according to his advisers.
His mother, Linda Maisha-Jones, said Jones visited Seattle on Tuesday and spoke with coach Lorenzo Romar.
Jones said he wanted to play for Romar, remain close to home and reunite with former Jefferson teammate Terrence Ross, a UW signee.
Kentucky's attraction, however, overcame everything else. Securing Jones to a recruiting group that had been ranked No. 2 in the country by Rivals.com softens the blow of losing five players, including All-American freshman John Wall.
The Huskies end the recruiting season much like they began it: missing on a prized recruit.
In November, Washington hoped to land Kentwood High star big man Joshua Smith, who chose UCLA.
The Huskies signed Desmond Simmons, a 6-7 forward from Richmond, Calif., junior college transfer Aziz N'Diaye, a 7-foot center from Dakar, Senegal, and Ross.
Jones would have elevated a recruiting class described as "solid" into the top 25 in the country, according to Scout.com recruiting analyst Evan Daniels.
With Jones, the Huskies would have been the early preseason favorite to win the Pac-10 conference title and many believe Washington was poised to make another deep run in the NCAA tournament.
Last year, UW (26-10) finished in the Sweet 16 and ranked No. 21 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.
The team lost one starter, senior Quincy Pondexter, and two reserves, Elston Turner and Clarence Trent, who chose to transfer.
College basketball analysts rank Washington between No. 7 and No. 23 in preseason polls.
The higher rankings hinged upon the Huskies signing Jones, who is rated the ninth-best senior by ESPNU. He's ranked 13th by Rivals.com and Scout.com rates him the No. 2 power forward in the country.
Jones averaged 32 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three blocks as a senior while leading Jefferson to a third straight state championship last season.
He was expected to replace Pondexter in a lineup, but now a handful of players, including Simmons, will contend for the starting job.