COLUMN: Jones in no sophomore slump in team scrimmage

UK head coach John Calipari put on the full-court hype for Terrence Jones on Tuesday, a day before the Blue-White scrimmage, by calling him the nation’s best player.

Calipari’s words alone didn’t prove anything. He’s been touting Jones’ potential ever since he stepped on campus, and he only partially lived up to it as a freshman.

It seemed possible Calipari was only saying it to give Jones extra motivation.

After the Blue-White Scrimmage, it seems Calipari was just telling it like it is. No exaggeration.

The scrimmage provided tangible evidence of what everyone, including Calipari, has been saying: Terrence Jones is good.

Like, really good.

Jones scored the first two points of the scrimmage on a hard drive. Then he hit another shot. And his next six in a row. He finished the game with 52 points, a Blue-White Scrimmage record, and 16 rebounds. He received a little scoreboard-watching help from Doron Lamb, who kept him posted on how close to 50 he was.

Jones said his previous high was 61 in seventh grade. As for the last time he got half-a-hundred?

“Last year,” Jones said.

How do I not remember him dropping 50 at some point last season?

“I mean, not last year,” Jones quickly corrected. “Sorry. Senior year of high school. Still think I’m a freshman.”

He’s not playing like he’s a freshman anymore.

Yes, his stat line needs to be put in context. The Blue team beat the White (but wearing gray) team 126-104. That’s a lot of points. Inflated stats were everywhere.

Still. 52 points. Calipari had to marvel at that, even if it did come against a lackluster defensive effort (more on that later).

His performance went beyond the numbers, though. Jones, who played passively too often last season, showed a willingness to drive. He did so by driving relentlessly at Anthony Davis, who has been called by Calipari the nation’s best shot-blocker. Jones got the better end of that deal frequently.

Jones’ new and improved physique will only be effective with an attacking mindset.

“He doesn’t really settle anymore,” senior guard Darius Miller said. “He gets to the rack. He knows he’s bigger and stronger than most of the people he’s going to play. And quicker, too.”

Not that he can’t still shoot on the perimeter — Jones hit the 50-point mark with four minutes left on a wide-open three — but he will live on the inside. Of his 31 shots, only four were 3-pointers.

So yes, Calipari’s hype for Jones was true.

But the rest of the game, Calipari had no hype for. He opened his press conference deriding the defense the teams played. Both teams scored more than 100 points in what was supposed to be a legitimate scrimmage.

“If anybody watched that and didn’t say, ‘he better start coaching,’ you’re truly a football fan watching basketball,” Calipari said.

The game did devolve into something that resembled more the Big Blue Madness exhibition than a real preseason scrimmage — which, by the way, is a week from now.

“If you watched that as a pickup game, you were excited,” Calipari said. “Everybody’s excited because you saw a lot of high-flying, dunking, blocking, flying, tipping – that doesn’t win, though.”

Calipari didn’t like the rebounding. He didn’t like how players let drivers swoop in for uncontested layups.

“I’ll go nuts if you do that in a real game,” Calipari said.


He would go nuts if Jones did what he did in a real game though, too.