Mark Story: Did Terrence Jones make right decision?

Forward risks being overshadowed at UK

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistMay 10, 2011 

Kentucky's Terrence Jones shouted after a basket during the second half of the Kentucky at South Carolina men's basketball game in Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, South Carolina, on Saturday Jan. 22, 2011.

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Fast-break points from the Derby finish line:

21. Terrence Jones. Not sure I've ever seen a player whose "do I stay or do I go" decision regarding the NBA Draft turned out to be a tougher call than the Kentucky forward's.

20. Rationale for saying no to draft I. Jones' stock clearly slipped from early in his freshman season when many had him going in the top three picks. Before he announced Saturday that he was staying at UK, some of the mock drafts had him dropping all the way down into the first round's late teens.

19. Rationale for saying no to draft II. Jones' game has obvious areas in need of improvement. He needs to develop his "off" hand, the right one. He needs to refine the mechanics of his shot. He needs more consistency.

18. Risk in saying no to draft I. With highly regarded freshman front-court players Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones and Harrison Barnes staying in college, this year's draft figures to be far weaker than next season's will be.

17. Risk in saying no to draft II. With UK adding lavishly hyped freshman forwards Anthony Davis and Michael Gilchrist, Jones will not be the frontline focus of the Kentucky offense to the extent he was for most of 2010-11. What if he doesn't improve in the ways the NBA wants to see?

16. DeAndre Liggins. The NBA Draft standing of the now ex-UK swingman seems to be rising, though no one currently has him projected in the first round. Still, because Liggins is already 23, has an infant child to support and might not have played as large a role on next season's Kentucky team as he did this past year, his decision to stay in the draft is a logical risk.

15. UK No. 2. With Terrence Jones' return, I expect Kentucky to be the consensus No. 2-ranked team in the country entering 2011-12.

14. North Carolina still No. 1. On paper, Roy Williams' Tar Heels — which return all their significant players from the team UK nipped in the East Regional finals and add highly touted recruit James McAdoo — are the clear No. 1.

13. 2011-12 Kentucky starting lineup. Looks like Doron Lamb and freshman point guard Marquis Teague in the backcourt, Terrence Jones and Anthony Davis in the front court — and the fifth spot is real interesting.

12. Darius Miller. Does the small forward spot go to senior-to-be Miller, a two-year starter and former Kentucky high school star who played the best basketball of his UK career down the stretch last season?

11. Michael Gilchrist. Or does it go to Gilchrist, the No. 1-ranked incoming freshman small forward in the country?

10. Updated mock draft: First round. The Web site draftexpress.com reformulated its projections after the deadline to withdraw from the NBA Draft on Sunday night and now has Brandon Knight going No. 5, Enes Kanter No. 8 and Kenneth Faried No. 20 in the first round.

9. Updated mock draft. Second round. For round number two, draftexpress.com has Shelvin Mack at No. 41; DeAndre Liggins No. 53 and Scotty Hopson No. 54. Neither Josh Harrellson nor Terrence Jennings is mentioned.

8. Shelvin Mack. Had a terrific NCAA Tournament for Butler after a very uneven junior season. Still, given the massive graduation losses that Brad Stevens' program will experience, it's understandable why the ex-Bryan Station star decided to try the pros.

7. Tennessee. With former University Heights Academy star Scotty Hopson and freshman standout Tobias Harris both staying in the NBA Draft, new UT coach Cuonzo Martin is starting a lot closer to rock bottom than Rocky Top.

6. Vols' blame game. When Tennessee struggles in the next year or so, it is Bruce Pearl who deserves the blame for the disastrous state in which he left UT men's basketball.

5. Gary Williams. The knock on the longtime Maryland coach was that he was too stubborn — or too honest — to engage with the slimy hoops netherworld of AAU coaches, shoe company reps, player agents and their runners and therefore his recruiting suffered.

4. Tubby Smith. In his waning years at Kentucky, that was pretty much the book on Tubby, too. Which is why I'm not sure the Scotland, Md., native would represent a meaningful change for his home-state school.

3. Kentucky Derby celebrities. Heard many say they thought this year's was a D-List crew. When I saw pictures of Larry Birkhead and The Man v. Food guy from the red carpet, it was hard to disagree. I would argue there were two major exceptions: Miranda Lambert is an A-plus country singer and Kate Walsh is an A-List TV actress.

2. The Kentucky Derby on TV. It's a fine line, but I think NBC "schmalzted up" its pre-race coverage this year to the point it crossed over from heart-warming to sicky-sweet.

1. The Village People. On the other hand, when NBC's celebrity Derby predictions ended with The Village People (the real group) singing "Mucho Macho Man," it was absolute gold.

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