Wednesday was Decision Day 2 for Terrence Jones.
The coveted 6-foot-9 forward from Portland, Ore., broke his mental deadlock between Washington and Kentucky, put pen to paper and reportedly signed a financial-aid offer — but not a national letter of intent — with the Cats.
My response: Smart move.
In a news conference nearly three weeks ago, he made a public commitment to Washington only to backpedal away from it as soon as he had completed the sentence, or as soon as he got on the phone to John Calipari.
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Don't knock Jones for his indecision. He's a high school senior. Today's blue-chip recruits travel the country, if not the world, playing in AAU games, in meaningless All-Star extravaganzas, in star-studded shoe camps. Their frequent-flyer miles surpass their years. They're also still kids making the biggest decisions of their lives.
So why make it if you don't have to?
Why play a game rigged in favor of schools and put your name on a letter of intent?
Look at Brandon Knight. Jones must have.
I haven't seen enough of the Fort Lauderdale guard's game to judge his basketball IQ, but I know Knight is smart. Not from what he's done, but what he did not do.
He didn't sign a letter of intent. After committing to play for Calipari and Kentucky, Knight bypassed the traditional letter to instead ink a financial-aid agreement. That's a non-binding agreement. It means Kentucky must provide Knight with a full scholarship next season. It does not mean Knight has to attend UK.
Ditto for Jones.
"It was a precautionary measure," Tonya Knight, Brandon's mother, told Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader.
Smart mother. Especially now. The guess here is Calipari will indeed be back on the Kentucky bench next season. He said last week, via Twitter, and then Lexy, and then ESPN, he'll be doing all that as coach at the University of Kentucky.
I believe him.
But would anyone be totally, completely, incredibly shocked if tomorrow the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Chicago Bulls or some other NBA team held a news conference to announce it was naming Calipari as coach?
Would any smart sports fan be surprised when a coach from any school says one thing one moment about a job opening and does something else the next?
Of course not.
So why should a player believe the coach? And why shouldn't a player protect himself against the chance that between now and the day the balls start bouncing for real, something turns his world upside down?
True, there's a double standard at play here. A Brandon Knight and a Terrence Jones can get away with not wedding themselves to a particular school. There will always be a home for such talent. Most coaches would happily kick a current player to the curb, or shift someone from scholarship to walk-on status, in the name of bringing a Knight or a Jones on board.
The same opportunity isn't available to the mid-level or lower-level recruits. Snubbing the establishment is too big a chance to take. Life's not fair.
But I'd be lying if I said I didn't find some pleasure in a situation where the "student-athlete" (my quotation marks) can play the system to protect his future.
There's a reason, after all, why the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the Justice Department's antitrust division has started a preliminary investigation into why student-athletes are afforded only one-year scholarships, renewable at the school's discretion.
Sign a letter of intent and a student-athlete is locked into exactly that lopsided agreement.
So the question Wednesday was not where will Terrence Jones sign?
The question was why would he sign at all?