The way UK head coach John Calipari sees it, Terrence Jones can go one of two ways.
He could “see the girls, go out to the clubs (and) play a little bit” this year, as Calipari said, taking the year for granted as a presumed leader on the team. That’s not the way Calipari needs Jones to go.
“Don’t think, well, now I came back, get out of the way, it’s my turn,” Calipari said. “It doesn’t happen here that way.”
Or, Jones could put in the work, in the weight room and on the court, to take the next step as a player. Calipari isn’t shy about placing high expectations on Jones. Last year, he repeatedly said Jones could be one of the best players in the country. He’s still setting that as Jones’ bar, and said he could evolve into a Derrick Williams-type player this season.
If he puts in the work.
“Do you come in at night, 10 at night, (when) I’m in my office?” Calipari said in a preseason interview. “The lights come on, there’s music, I look down, there’s Terrence Jones in that gym. That means he becomes one of the top three players, if not the best player, in the country.”
Calipari said he has seen all the right signs from Jones, from weight work that put on 20 pounds over the summer to a good level of intensity in preseason practices.
“Terrence Jones was a man today,” Calipari said after a Sept. 30 practice. “A man. Tipping in balls, driving in and being physical.”
Continue to do that, and Jones would reach his goal of being a top-10 pick in the NBA — a goal which he would not have met had he entered last year, and the primary reason why he returned to UK for a sophomore season.
The same goes for Doron Lamb, who was looking at being, at best, a late first-round pick. He, too, eschewed the draft, and Calipari wants to see the same progression out of his other sophomore. Calipari has set a similarly high bar for Lamb, saying he could become a top-15 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
“That’s why we keep challenging,” Calipari said. “Do you want to be the best? You have the ability to be the best. Go do it. Be the first in the gym, be the last in the gym. Are you kicking the weights or are you miserable in the weight room?”
Last season, Calipari didn’t see the necessary urgency from Lamb, starting in the exhibition games when Lamb didn’t warm up correctly. He attributed that to Lamb’s inexperience.
“If something has come easy for you, you’ve never had to fight, why would you fight?”
Lamb himself has said he didn’t really get a grasp for what needed to happen to have the most success at the college level.
“That’s the challenge of coaching, getting young people to understand how hard it will be if you’re to reach your potential,” Calipari said. “There’s only one way to get peace of mind, and that’s do your absolute best. The only person that really knows when is when you look in the mirror.”
And if an NBA future is the motivation needed to help the Cats, that’s fine with the coach.
“You got to put your mind to it, have a sense of urgency,” Calipari said of the mentality Jones and Lamb need to have. “I’m not here just to play now. I came back for a reason.”