Mark Story: If NBA lottery projections are correct, Jones should go

If Jones is bound for lottery, he should go

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistMarch 4, 2011 

Freshman Terrence Jones signaled a three-pointer during Kentucky's victory over South Carolina on Feb. 19.

MARK CORNELISON | STAFF

Fast-break points from inside the bubble:

21. Terrence Jones. I was leaving Rupp Arena just before dawn after the Kentucky-Vanderbilt game ended and heard two UK fans in an animated conversation over whether Kentucky's freshman forward is "ready" for the NBA Draft?

20. Not the right question. As funny as this sounds, the pressing issue for any draft-eligible underclassman isn't readiness to play immediately in the play-for-pay; it's whether it makes business sense to turn pro at the time you are making the decision.

19. Jones and the mock drafts. There's some sentiment floating around that Jones' draft stock has dropped from earlier this season. Still, I checked five 2011 NBA Draft projections this week. They have Jones going 7th, 6th, 8th, 5th and 1st.

18. A lottery pick? If the mocks are anywhere close to what the pro teams are really thinking — and if there is no NBA season-killing labor action for 2011-12 — then Jones' decision seems clear. If you're in the draft lottery, the right business decision is to go pro.

17. The NCAA Tournament field of 68. According to the most recent (Feb. 28) ESPN.com bracketology, the last three teams in the newly expanded Big Dance are Michigan, Alabama and Baylor.

16. Big-conference also-rans. This is why I've never had much enthusiasm for any enlargement of the NCAA tourney (though 68 is far more palatable than 96 would have been). Beyond 65, all you are doing is rewarding mediocrity.

15. Give the little guys a chance. When it comes to the final at-large berths in the NCAAs, I'd rather see teams from smaller leagues (an Old Dominion or a Utah State) that don't win their conference tourney but who have had excellent seasons get the nod.

14. The BYU honor code. The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that Brigham Young starting center Brandon Davies was suspended for engaging in pre-marital sexual relations with his girlfriend. BYU students make a pledge to abstain when they enroll in the religious school.

13. A school that puts its values ahead of winning. Whatever you think of the strictness of the honor code, BYU put at risk the best men's basketball season in school history by refusing to turn a blind eye.

12. Worth respect. In the win-at-all-costs world of major college sports, how many schools — including other religious schools — would have done the same?

11. OVC Tournament. Other than people affiliated with competing schools, is there anyone who doesn't want to see a tie-breaking third showdown between Morehead State and Murray State in the Ohio Valley Conference's men's finals?

10. Donnie Tyndall. I recently asked the Morehead State coach how his current team compares to MSU's 2009 NCAA Tournament team. Says Tyndall: "Very similar. By the end of the year, (the NCAA team was) playing six-and-a-half guys. This team plays seven. We have a good frontline. But having Leon Buchanan (on NCAA tourney team) was very comforting. I'd probably lean to that team, but it is very close."

9. Sean Woods. The ex-UK point guard's Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils (12-18, 11-6 in the SWAC) are 245th in the RPI (source: realtime-rpi.com). Amazingly, that's four spots ahead of Wake Forest.

8. Matt Painter. If I had a vote, the Purdue head man would get my tally for National Coach of the Year.

7. Origin of UK's Senior Night hoops. The question came up Tuesday in Rupp Arena when Kentucky seniors first started running through paper hoops before their final home games?

6. Joe B. Hall's recollection. "I really don't remember," the former UK coach said. "I know in (Memorial) Coliseum, we used to turn the lights out, throw a spotlight on (the seniors). When we moved into Rupp Arena, we couldn't do that because we couldn't get the lights back on right away."

5. 1977. I went to the Lexington Herald-Leader microfilm. The first year in which there were pictures in the newspaper of Kentucky seniors bursting through a hoop was 1977.

4. A dual hoop. That year, seniors Larry Johnson and Merion Haskins did not get individual hoops. They both simultaneously burst through one hoop that had both their names on it.

3. 1978. Was the first year I could find when UK seniors — in this case, Jack Givens, James Lee, Mike Phillips and Rick Robey — ran through individual hoops.

2. Josh Harrellson. Had a very good Senior Night. He played well in what was a very good game. Members of the student section wearing jean shorts as a salute to "Jorts" was a nice touch.

1. Victoria Dunlap. Is still the winner for best 2011 UK Senior Night. Singing the national anthem before the game, then playing a vital role in a miracle comeback for victory in your final home appearance is hard to beat.

Reach Mark Story at (859) 231-3230 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3230, or mstory@herald-leader.com. Your e-mail could appear on the blog Read Mark Story's E-mail at Kentucky.com.

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