The Terrence Jones QuestionPosted by jstevrtc on May 2nd, 2010
First off, let’s get this out of the way — as of this writing (a few minutes after midnight on Sunday), there is no new development. As Chevy Chase used to say: “This breaking news just in — Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.”
By now, you’ve heard the story. Terrence Jones, ranked ninth on the most recent ESPN-U 100 list of high school senior hoopsters, had his press conference at his high school on Friday to announce where he’d be attending college. He had a table with six hats on display — Kansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, UCLA, Washington, and Kentucky. After some emotional thank-yous, he proclaimed that he still hadn’t come to a decision, and that he was literally choosing a college at that very moment. He pump-faked toward the Kansas hat, then chose the lid from Washington. As you’d expect from a crowd at what sounded like a pro-Washington Huskies high school, the choice led to much rejoicing, and a hug from Jones’ high school (and presumptive college) teammate, Terrence Ross, ranked 30th on the same ESPN-U 100 list. Jones did not sign a letter of intent at the event.
Later on Friday, the Seattle Times reported that Jones was wavering on his decision. Jones evidently called Kentucky coach John Calipari and there was a 15-minute conversation, though nobody knows what was said. By Friday night, nobody — including Terrence Jones — was sure where anybody stood. The Times‘ Percy Allen, who has been absolutely all over this story, wrote yesterday that he expected more developments on Saturday. No news came.
If you thought that Jones added that “I still haven’t made a decision” bit for show, you’re wrong. Jones was telling the truth, there. If a recruit is confident in his decision, unless it’s to say something along the lines of, “Thanks for your efforts, but I’ve decided to go elsewhere,” you don’t call another program’s coach mere minutes after you’ve committed to another school. This was a kid who, despite the arrival of the deadline he set and the announcement party being in full swing, still didn’t and doesn’t know where he wants to spend his college days, whether it’s for one year or five.
The question that logically follows is obvious: why didn’t he just call off the press conference? Maybe he thought the answer would come to him in the final 24 hours. Maybe he thought the impromptu method would reveal, even to him, where his heart was truly leading him. Nobody knows the answer except Terrence Jones.
Before we all go bashing the guy, though, ask yourself what you would have done. Make sure you throw it all in there in your deliberations: tens of thousands of people watching via websites live-streaming or live-blogging your decision; a gym full of friends, all UW fans; your parents waiting with you; you’re standing there in your tuxedo on a deadline day that you’ve established and you still haven’t made a decision. Terrence knew he couldn’t take a seat at that table, pick up the mic and say, “Sorry, folks. I still don’t know. Go home.” Well, maybe he could have, but nobody said this was handled perfectly. Jones is 18 years old, was still unsure about the biggest decision of his life, didn’t want to let anybody down, and heck, even had the SAT facing him on Saturday morning. He can’t be expected to handle that particular pickle with perfect aplomb. A safe play is to pick up the hometown cap, then get hold of any other programs still in the running to let them know that it’s not over. Again, we can’t read Terrence’s mind. That’s simply how this all appears from here.
But this will end well, because when the decision comes, this young man will be sure of his college choice. Whether it’s Washington, Kentucky, Kansas, or even Gardner-Webb or Hofstra, by not signing his LOI, Jones has still left himself free to attend whatever school he wants. The unsigned LOI should not be taken as a snub to UW, but rather as a kid just playing it safe. His buyer’s remorse illustrates exactly why these kids should keep their options open by never signing this document even after giving a verbal commitment, but that’s a discussion for another time. What’s important here is that Terrence technically has until May 19th — the end of the signing period — to make his college decision, and that he takes whatever time he needs to make a decision of which he’s certain, even if he still ends up as a Husky. It’s better that he makes a good decision after further soul-searching than stick with a hurried decision of which he’s unsure, a decision he made just because he was sitting at a table with hats on it and had to pick one.
The best insight into Jones’ mind in all of this comes in what he told the Seattle Times‘ Percy Allen (we told you, he’s all over this) on Friday: “You hurt thousands of people as much as you make people happy.” He knows whatever he decides is going to make some people happy but is also going to upset an even greater number, including several coaches who recruited him, and he can’t stand the thought of that. There’s nothing wrong with feeling trepidation about a decision that big — but it is indeed part of growing up. Terrence Jones is going to do a lot of that in the next few days. He’s definitely going to find out who his real friends are. Because this is a decision he has to make while considering what’s best for him — not for his friends, coaches, recruiters, or even his parents. Could he have dealt with all of this a little better? Sure, but we don’t know many 18-year olds who have a perfect decision-making track record, so let’s all keep one thing in focus. It’s not important that Terrence Jones gets his college decision right in a roomful of classmates, reporters, and bloggers. It’s simply important that he gets his college decision right.