To read Glenn's "Postmortem" of UK's victory over Auburn, scroll down.
When Kentucky forward Terrence Jones arrived in Lexington this summer from Oregon, he brought with him a reputation which designated him a player, who despite his 6-8 frame, loved to float out to the perimeter and drop 20-footers on the opposition. How unusual is that mindset for a high school player? It's not the mindset that is so unusual (lots of big men pine to play the perimeter), but rather, the fact that Jones actually played the perimeter more than the interior; that is what makes his basketball background so vastly different than the average 6-8 high school forward. For most 6-8 high school ballers are limited to the painted areas via threat of pine time. The tall timber are supposed to grab rebounds, pile up the points on put-backs, and defend the opponents tallest player.
But, every so often, a big man is blessed with the skills most often looked for in a shooting guard -- Good handles, a strong shooting eye, and the ability to create ones own shot. Enter Terrence Jones. Enter a Kentucky forward with the versatility to play a variety of positions.
After Kentucky's 78-54 thrashing of Auburn on Tuesday night, Wildcat coach John Calipari voiced his concern over the thought of Jones falling in love with the long-ball -- Calipari had this to say about Jones' four made three-point shots against Auburn, "But to be honest with you, I'm sitting on the bench saying, 'We're not winning with him shooting 3's. He may shoot one, two or three, but that's not why we win. We'll win because he'll rebound and score around the goal, he'll score on drives, stick-backs." -- But there is no escaping how valuable a big man, who can shoot with accuracy out to 18-20 feet, is to any basketball team. Not only is the player scoring in a variety of ways, but the shooter, in this case Jones, brings a big defender out away from the basket, giving room for UK center Josh Harrellson to work. If Jones' defender opts to stay "home," he is certainly capable of taking and making the wide open look, as he did Tuesday, going 4-5 from beyond the arc against the Tigers.
The 12 points Jones scored from made three-pointers on Tuesday were part of a new Kentucky freshman scoring record the talented forward set with his 35 points versus Auburn, breaking teammate Doron Lamb's mark of 32 set against Winthrop only a few weeks ago. Think about that ... 35 points from a freshman!
Brought to my mind as I watched Jones dominate a clearly inferior opponent, is how good Jones is, only 16 games into his college career. Sure, he has had trouble with consistency, and at times he begins games as if he's back home in Oregon playing against high school competition (but, that isn't why he did not start Tuesday's tilt; he was sick Monday and missed practice, so Cal brought him off the bench). As he matures, though, and accepts the coaching of Calipari and staff, those are issues which should fall by the wayside.
But, just how good is Jones when compared to other versatile UK forwards? Does Jones' freshman season thus far measure-up against the likes of Jamal Mashburn, Antoine Walker, Chris Mills, and Tayshaun Prince through their first 16 games as Wildcats?
Well, we're going to find out. We're going to pit Jones' numbers, 16 games into his freshman season, with the corresponding statistics in the careers of some of the most productive, versatile Kentucky forwards over the last 25 years (all the players chosen for this comparison played at UK after the inception of the three-point shot in the 1986-87 season).
Comparing Freshman Forwards with Versatility
Terrence Jones has played 475 minutes through 16 games, or 29.7 minutes per game. He has scored 299 points (18.7 points per game), grabbed 146 rebounds (9.1 rebounds per game), and dished out 27 assists (1.7 assists per game). Jones is making 47.7% of his overall shots (106-222), 37.2% of his three-point shots (16-43), and 50.3% of his two-point tries (90-179).
To get a truer understanding of how Jones has performed when compared to the players below; this is his per minute played numbers -- .629 points per minute played: .307 rebounds per minute played: .034 three-pointers made per minute played: .057 assists per minute played.
Chris Mills ('88-'89) -- Mills played 547 minutes through his first 16 games, or 34.2 minutes per game. He scored 221 points (13.8 points per game), corralled 134 rebounds (8.4 rebounds per game), and distributed 48 assists (3.0 assists per game). Mills made 49.2% of his overall shots (89-181), 29.6% of his three-point shots (8-27), and 52.6% of his two-point tries (81-154).
Per minute played numbers -- .404 points per minute played: .245 rebounds per minute played: .015 three-pointers made per minute played: .088 assists per minute played.
Jamal Mashburn ('90-'91) -- Monster Mash played 387 minutes through his first 16 games, or 24.2 minutes per game. Mashburn scored 206 points (12.9 points per game), grabbed 114 rebounds (7.1 rebounds per game), and dished-out 24 assists (1.5 assists per game). He made 46.7% of his overall shots (78-167), 26.2% of his three-point shots (11-42), and 53.6% of his two-point attempts (67-125).
Per minute played numbers -- .532 points per minute played: .295 rebounds per minute played: .028 three-pointers made per minute played: .062 assists per minute played.
Antoine Walker ('94-'95) -- Walker played 239 minutes through his first 16 games, or 14.9 minutes per game. 'Toine scored 118 points (7.4 points per game), snagged 61 rebounds (3.8 rebounds per game), and handed-out 25 assists (1.6 assists per game). He made 39.7% of his overall shots (46-116), 28.6% of his three-point shots (8-28), and 43.2% of his two-point tries (38-88).
Per minute played numbers -- .494 points per minute played: .255 rebounds per minute played: .033 three-pointers made per minute played: .105 assists per minute played.
Tayshaun Prince ('98-'99) -- Tay played 344 minutes through his first 16 games, or 21.5 minutes per game. He scored 102 points (6.4 points per game), hauled in 68 rebounds (4.3 rebounds per game), and gave-out 24 assists (1.5 assists per game). Prince made 43.0% of his overall shots (43-100), 27.8% of his three-point tries (15-54), and 60.9% of this two-point shots (28-46) -- Note: When Prince shot the ball, he took a three-pointer 54% of the time during this span of time, no other player being compared tops 30% of his shots being three-pointers.
Per minute played numbers -- .297 points per minute played: .198 rebounds per minute played: .044 three-pointers made per minute played: .070 assists per minute played.
And just for the fun of it, let's take a look at Jones' numbers compared to Patrick Patterson's entire junior year, when Patterson made himself versatile by becoming a long-range threat.
Patrick Patterson ('09-'10) -- PPat played 1,255 minutes for the season, or 33.0 minutes per game. He scored 544 points (14.3 points per game), snatched 283 rebounds (7.4 rebounds per game), and dished-out 36 assists (.95 assists per game). Patterson made 57.5% of his overall shots (215-374), 34.8% of his three-point attempts (24-69), and 62.6% of his two-point tries (191-305).
Per minute played numbers -- .433 points per minute played: .225 rebounds per minute played: .019 three-pointers made per minute played: .029 assists per minute played.
Although Jones dominates the scoring and rebounding per minute numbers, one has to take into account that Jones is heavily relied on to provide this team with points and rebounds, while most of the players listed above were not "The Man" on their respective teams, during their freshmen years.
But, even taking that into consideration, Jones' numbers are indeed impressive. His versatility as both a prominent figure in the paint and long-bomb threat, make him and his talents unique in the annals of Kentucky basketball. And a "unique" talent should always be appreciated, especially by fans of the Big Blue.
And one final thought -- I would like to take this time to offer my condolences to Wildcat Blue Nation founder Paul Jordan on the passing of his father. The thoughts and prayers of the Big Blue Nation are with Paul as he endures through this most difficult of times.
Thanks for reading and Go 'Cats!