Perhaps Brandon Knight is a bit biased. Perhaps he's just trying to be a good teammate. Whatever it is, the Kentucky freshman guard certainly likes freshman teammate Terrence Jones.
Jones put on a superb show during Tuesday's Blue-White Game here by scoring 29 points on 13-for-26 shooting from the field. He had eight rebounds, three assists, three blocked shots and only two turnovers.
"He's versatile and creates mismatches with his size," said Knight, who led UK with 37 points. "Nobody in the country can guard him with that size and quickness. He's got a lot of strengths that no one can stop."
Call it youthful enthusiasm except junior Darius Miller was just as lavish in his praise of Jones.
"He is an extremely talented player. He's going to contribute in a lot of ways this year," Miller said. "Both him and Brandon can score in bunches. It's going to be hard to stop them. If we need a basket, one of them will probably get it.
"Terrence, with his size and decision-making, has to be one of the most versatile kids in the country. There are not many left-handed players like him, and that makes him unique, too."
Even coach John Calipari had to pause a moment before evaluating how Jones had played in front of over 11,000 fans in Rupp Arena.
"He's pretty good. Did some good stuff," Calipari said. "One of the things you've got to have is you've got to score the ball, and that kid right there can score the ball.
"Look, I'm not the kind of guy that recruits players and says, you must play like this and if you can't, you're not going to be a player. I try to look at a kid and say, how does he play, what's the best style for him to play."
Jones was just glad to be playing. He played only the first half of UK's opening game on a three-game exhibition trip to Canada because of a cracked rib. Now he's healthy and able to do the things that made him one of the nation's top recruits.
"It was fun to be out there," Jones said. "It was fun to get this experience and work on stuff in front of a crowd. We came into the game knowing we would mess up some, but we wanted to play hard and play together."
He had plenty of highlights during the game:
— He hit a 3-pointer early and then tallied off a fast-break lob from Knight.
— He delivered a nifty bounce pass to Doron Lamb for a fast break assist.
— Once he drove left, spun and then hit a 5-foot shot with his right hand. Another time he drove, gave a nice head fake and made a 10-foot jump shot.
— His best play came when he blocked Jon Hood's shot, hustled out on the fast break and threw down a powerful dunk off another lob from Knight. He followed that a little later with a behind-the-back dribble on a drive inside the lane.
"Terrence is just relentless," freshman Jarrod Polson said. "He's tall, but crafty and passes so well. He's a tremendous asset for us."
Calipari would prefer Jones not take 3-pointers — he was 1-for-4 — unless the ball is driven into the lane and then thrown out to him. "But if the ball is swung and he should be driving the ball and he's just jacking up a 3 because he's not in the mode to attack, you've got to come out (of the game)," the UK coach said.
"He wants me to drive. I have to be thinking that in my head," Jones said.
He also has to get to the offensive board better. Senior Josh Harrellson had 16 rebounds, including 12 offensive boards. Jones had one offensive rebound.
"What he did not do today, and what he must do for us to be any good, he has to offensive rebound," Calipari said. "He had one offensive rebound in that game; not only that, we missed 40 shots, so one out of 40 shots you rebounded. Come on now. He probably attempted to offensive rebound, 25, 30 percent of the time. He needs to attempt to offensive rebound 80 percent of the time. He's long. Go get a free basket here."
Jones didn't know he had just one offensive rebound until told by media members after the game.
"I was just tired probably," he laughed and said. "I don't know what else to say."
Calipari really didn't, either, other than to note he had the worst rebounding team in America or the most improved player in the country in Harrellson after his rebounding domination. However, the coach knows Jones' versatility will be important for Kentucky, especially if the Cats continue to be without Enes Kanter.
"I think when you look at us, you know we are going to be better against zone because now you put Terrence in the middle of a zone and you put shooters around him. We are a little different team than we were a year ago versus the zone," Calipari said.
That's fine with Jones.
"I just try to take what the defense gives me. I hope I can help us spread the court if needed and that I can drive more the way coach Cal wants," Jones said. "Without Enes, coach Cal tells us all we have to rebound more. We can't rely on one person. But I also know he expects more out of me and I want more out of me, too."
Jones impresses teammates, Calipari
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