Calipari tweaks schedule for Terrence Jones

Cats will play game in recruit's home state

jtipton@herald-leader.comMay 25, 2010 

Kentucky intends to treat incoming freshman Terrence Jones with a homecoming game in Portland, which would appear to be the program's first game in the state of Oregon.

During an appearance on a Portland radio station Friday, UK Coach John Calipari said he was working on a game in the Rose Garden (home of the Portland TrailBlazers) next season. The game would be played on Nov. 19, in part, as a way to break up the trip to Hawaii for the 2010 Maui Invitational (Nov. 22-24) and serve as a homecoming for Jones, a highly regarded forward from Portland.

Calipari declined to say who Kentucky would play in the game, but a spokesman for the University of Portland said the schools were well on the way to finalizing an agreement.

According to the UK record book, Kentucky has never played in Oregon.

Kentucky has a 6-0 record in games against Oregon (1-0), Oregon State (3-0), Portland (1-0) and Portland State (1-0). All six games were played in Lexington.

"Our plan right now is to come and play in the Rose Garden in November of next season," Calipari said on Portland station 95.5 The Fan. "So the beginning of the season we will bring our team out to Portland to play for a game in the Rose Garden. We are playing in Hawaii."

Calipari noted that the game in Portland would allow Jones to play in his hometown.

"So on the way to Hawaii we will stop in Portland and play and let all of their fans and his fans get a chance to see him in a setting with us." the UK coach said.

Kentucky's recruitment of Jones, who committed to UK last week, sparked much conversation, especially in the northwest, because some wondered if Kentucky continued recruiting Jones after the player's earlier commitment to Washington.

Calipari noted the surprise in the Kentucky camp when Jones committed to Washington in a news conference setting at his Portland high school.

"Well, we thought that he was coming with us and when he said 'Washington' we were like 'what just happened?'" the UK coach said. "That was the first thing. Then he called about an hour later and said 'Cal, I made a mistake. I don't know what I was doing.'

"That is when the thing went like 'You what?' So we talked to him and said that we are going to do whatever you want. I am holding your scholarship. At one point I said, 'Look, if you want to go to Washington then go to Washington, and if you want to come with us, come with us. Just make a decision so that we can all move on.' "

Calipari suggested that the college choice weighed heavily on Jones.

"Terrence is a pleaser," he said. "He is not one to be confrontational. ... He wanted to please me, he wanted to please Lorenzo (Romar, the Washington coach), wanted to please his teammates."

Calipari spoke of Jones having a chance to make a big impact as a college freshman.

"Basically he is like a 6-9 point guard," he said. "The way we play with the dribble-drive, it puts him in those spots where he is a playmaker. Forget about his size. He is a perimeter player. There will be times where he can take the inside. He can take the outside. He can make plays. I just thought that he was one of the hidden gems when I saw him in the summer."

When asked about critics saying recruiting should end when a player commits to a school, Calipari said, "Well, I agree with that. I agree. But when the young man calls you and says that 'I made a mistake — Coach, I want to reconsider this' — it changed everything. If he had committed to Washington and that was the end of it, then we wouldn't have done anything. But this was a unique situation now. I have never been in anything like this. ...

"I don't mind that Washington fans are upset and upset with me. ... But the reality is that I think, Lorenzo knows and their staff knows this was not our doing. I mean it was this young man and at the end of the day it is about him."

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