Of all the high-profile freshmen who passed on the NBA draft last season, only Kentucky’s Terrence Jones is still playing.
One more victory, and he’ll have a national title to show for his efforts.
“Being here now, winning in Atlanta, everything we’ve been doing this whole season, I thought it was a great experience,” Jones said Sunday.
Not that it’s been an easy ride.
Jones entered the season as the go-to guy for the Wildcats. Coach John Calipari raved about his work ethic and his focus. When Jones scored 52 points in an early scrimmage, it seemed as if he’d pop for a monster season.
Instead, he’s been inconsistent. Jones is Kentucky’s third-leading scorer (12.4 ppg) and often defers to freshman Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on offense. But that’s worked out perfectly for the Wildcats (37-2) who’ve been the game’s dominant team most of the season because they’ve worked so well together.
That’s been a big plus for Jones’ relationship with Calipari, too. The coach could be merciless in his criticism of Jones, but both saw the potential for it paying off with huge dividends.
“He has been tough on me since I first got here. He expects a lot from me. I know he loves me and how good he thinks I am and how much he believes in me. He’s been a father figure to me,” Jones said. “Sometimes it’s tough love and sometimes it’s good love. I take it in all the same way. I just listen to what he says.”
One more win and they’ll both be delighted by the end result.
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