Calipari explains recruiting of Terrence Jones

In an interview with a Portland, Oregon Radio station, UK coach John Calipari explained what happened in the recruitment of Terrence Jones.

His thoughts on Terrence Jones choosing to play at Kentucky:

“First of all, I was relieved like ‘Wow! We finally got this done.’ You are talking about as a player and as a person. One, he is a great kid but he is a young kid and this process it was tough for him. I know what he thought of the Washington program and their staff, players and teammates that were going there. This was hard for a young man like Terrence but you are talking about a 6’9’’ unique player. You guys have all seen him and the people that have watched him. Basically he is like a 6’9’’ point guard. The way we play with the dribble-drive, it puts him in those spots where he is a playmaker. Forget about his size. He is a perimeter player. There will be times where he can take the inside. He can take the outside. He can make plays. I just thought that he was one of the hidden gems when I saw him in the summer. I went ‘Oh my gosh! Who is this guy?’ So I am really excited.”

What the rollercoaster was like trying to sign Terrence Jones:

“Well we thought that he was coming with us and when he said ‘Washington’ we were like ‘what just happened?’ That was the first thing. Then he called about an hour later and said ‘Cal, I made a mistake. I don’t know what I was doing.’ That is when the thing went like ‘You what?’ So we talked to him and said that we are going to do whatever you want. I am holding your scholarship. At one point I said, ‘Look, if you want to go to Washington then go to Washington, and if you want to come with us, come with us. Just make a decision so that we can all move on.’ But I felt bad for him to be honest with you. Because he is 6’9’’ everybody thinks that this guy is a grown man. They have emotions and they still, the peer pressure wanting to please everybody. Terrence is a pleaser. He is not one to be confrontational. He is not one that… He is a pleaser. He wanted to please me, he wanted to please Lorenzo, wanted to please his teammates. That is what he is. But I will tell you what…I think that we have got a player that fits as well as anybody that I have ever recruited. Who, what I hope is the people of Portland, when they see him they will say that we knew that he was good but we didn’t know that he was this good. I would tell you that our plan right now is to come and play in the Rose Garden in November of next season. So the beginning of the season we will bring our team out to Portland to play for a game in the Rose Garden. We are playing in Hawaii so on the way to Hawaii we will stop in Portland and play and let all of their fans and his fans get a chance to see him in a setting with us…”

How he feels about people saying that he shouldn’t have recruited a kid that has already made a verbal commitment to another school:

“Well I agree with that. I agree, but when the young man calls you and says that I made a mistake, ‘Coach, I want to reconsider this’ it changed everything. If he had committed to Washington and that was the end of it then we wouldn’t have done anything. But this was a unique situation now. I have never been in anything like this where within an hour… I didn’t see the press conference but I had people tell me that at the time they looked at it and said, ‘Wow’ and then after he went with his parents. But I didn’t see it all. I mean I didn’t watch it, but it was unique. I don’t mind that Washington fans are upset and upset with me. That is part of what we do here but the reality is that I think, Lorenzo knows and their staff knows this was not our doing. I mean it was this young man and at the end of the day it is about him. It is about him reaching his dreams. It is about him making a decision that was best for him not for fans and teammates. It is about what is best for Terrence Jones and being selfish in that. I think at the end of the day that is what he tried to do.”