VAUGHT: Terrence Jones "can't wait to play"

Knowing that Kentucky coach John Calipari called him a "mama's boy" doesn't bother freshman Terrence Jones.

"He says that because he every time he sees me he knows she raised me, always took care of me and taught me everything I know. That is where he gets that from," the freshman forward said. "She is my biggest fan and the person who stuck through the whole recruitment process and had to deal with everything she had to deal with. She had to deal with a lot, too."

That's because the 6-9 Portland, Ore., native initially announced he would sign with Washington before having second thoughts moments after making the decision and eventually signing with Kentucky.

"I would say the process was pretty hard on both us. Just her not ever really having had to deal with anything like this before and not knowing too much about it. Dealing with all the schools we had to deal with and talk to was hard for her. It was just a different experience for her, and I didn't make it any easier," he smiled and said.

Calipari doesn't plan to make it easy on Jones, either. He was able to play only part of one game on the Wildcats' three-game exhibition trip to Canada in August because after spraining an ankle in practice, it was also discovered he had significant a shoulder injury.

"I told him and his mother the same thing, the disappointing thing for me is that I really didn't get to get on him to get him to elevate to understand the culture of practice and how you are going to get better," Calipari said.

"It went from the ankle when he shouldn't have been practicing to the shoulder we find out later that he shouldn't have been practicing (with), and he did anyway.

"That tells me he is a little mentally tougher than I thought. He is a mama's boy, but he is a little bit mentally and physically tougher than I thought. But for us to be any good, he has to contribute and be one of the guys."

That's what Jones wants, too, especially so he can put his recruiting saga behind him. As one of the nation's top-ranked recruits — and already a projected NBA first-round draft choice in June by many after he averaged 30 points, 14 rebounds and six assists per game as a senior — his change of heart after initially picking Washington drew national attention.

"I can't wait to play, because I am a basketball player and that is what I love doing. It is tough having injuries, but you go through those. When I am better, I will be having fun and can get on the court and make everybody forget the past," Jones said.

So is he a mama's boy deep down, or is he tougher than Calipari understood?

"You just never want to miss a game. Knowing one was coming up and we only had three to play until November, I wanted to try and see if I could make it through it. Once it happened, I knew I was not going to make it. But I will be fine when practice gets going (later in October)," Jones said.

Jones played various sports when he was younger, something that probably is no surprise since his cousin is NBA star Damon Stoudamire.

"My aunt Eva, who taught me basketball, taught me every sport. When we went to the park, we played tennis, baseball, football and basketball. I played a lot of sports, and liked them all," he said.

Except maybe tennis.

"The ball was going everywhere too much for me. I didn't have the patience for that, so I stuck to baseball, football and basketball," he said.

He was a pitcher, first baseman and second baseman in baseball. "I played a little bit of everywhere. I was a good hitter, too," he said.

In football, he was a quarterback and receiver.

"That was my second favorite sport. I played from fourth grade through freshman year seriously, and then I got more serious about basketball my sophomore and junior year and took two years off from football," Jones said.

However, he decided to play football again in his senior year.

"I didn't want to go out not playing football. It was difficult taking two years off and coming back. Not being able to play the same way you used to was tough for me, but I had fun," he said.

"Some people told me not to play because I might get hurt, but I wanted to do it for myself knowing I wouldn't be able to play football ever again. I wanted to put on the cleats one last time. I didn't finish the season because it got to be time to train for basketball. But I had fun, and that's what I wanted to do."

Calipari wants Jones, who was a point guard before hitting a growth spurt in high school, to have fun doing various things for the Wildcats.

"He doesn't shoot it as well as Darius Miller, but he can do a lot of different things for us. He can play almost like a guard with his size," Calipari said.

So is he a guard or forward?

"Honestly, I am just whatever coach Cal wants me to be. I will just try to play my best at whatever position he puts me. That is just all I can do," said Jones, who says he likes to relax by watching movies and TV or having fun with UK's other freshman players. "I would describe myself as a really tall guard.

"I don't know if I want to play point guard, but shooting guard would be nice. I can handle the ball. I had a weird growth spurt. I played point guard in middle school and my freshman year of high school, so that helped me a lot. Then I hit a growth spurt to be 6-6, and that changed a lot about where I played. But I still have my perimeter skills.

"I like getting out and running the court. It's a lot of fun just making plays and being able to be free with it in the open court. Those are things coach Cal encourages."

Jones, who won three straight state championships and was twice the Class 5A player of the year in Oregon, says he always strives to be better.

"You want to be better at everything and be a more complete player in everything. I especially want to work on being a better defender and improve my help-side defense and on-ball defense," he said.

And if he is a mama's boy, he's managed to avoid being homesick, even though he admits visits this summer from his mother helped.

"I haven't been homesick yet. I am too into everything we are doing here from practice to just trying to get better," he said. "This is a great place, and being here with them (UK's other freshmen) makes you feel like you are at home. It's a great town and great fans.

"I like being here with my ‘brothers' and having fun. I don't know why we get along so well, but me, Brandon (Knight) and Doron (Lamb) all get along so well. Even brothers fight, but we have been trying to connect and become a great team. That is a mission we are all trying to do. Everybody has been on the same page getting along, and that works out better for everyone."

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