"Being the No. 1 pick should be every basketball player's goal and dream. I just want to be the best I?can be and work as hard as I can to be that," said Jones, who averaged 15.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game as a freshman on Kentucky's Final Four team. "I also told coach Cal (John Calipari) I wanted to come back to try to win a national championship. I wasn't ready to leave Kentucky without winning a national championship that we got close to doing last year."
Jones has had an interesting last 18 months. He originally gave a verbal commitment to Washington, but changed his mind a few minutes later and eventually ended up signing with Kentucky. He put his name into the NBA draft after last season, worked out for NBA personnel and likely would have gone in the top 15 to 20 picks at worst if he had left his name in the draft. Instead, he decided to come back to UK?and made the Wildcats a top three team going into this season.
"Terrence set a goal he wanted to be a top-10 draft pick and it wasn't going to happen. Don't listen to whoever is telling you it would have happened. It wasn't going to happen. We did our homework. He was in the middle of it (the draft)," Calipari said. "Could he have been a top-10 player? Yeah. They just weren't picking him there. All those foreign players, you think about what went on. Now he comes back, he wants to be a top pick."
Calipari says now Jones has to take advantage of his decision to come back to Kentucky and improve his overall game, which was good enough last year to earn him recognition as a preseason All-American.
"Don't think, ‘Well, now I came back, get out of the way, it's my turn.' t doesn't happen here that way," Calipari said. "You got to put your mind, have a sense of urgency, be on a path that I am going to get better, I am going to compete every day, and everyone I go against, I'm trying to be better than them.
"I'm not here just to play now. I came back for a reason. That is what you do. I think if a young man does have an opportunity and he's a lottery pick, he's down in there, hard to say no to that, it really is. But he wants to be a top pick."
Jones had 11 points, 15 rebounds and four steals in the Wildcats' Final Four loss to Connecticut. He had 12 double-doubles last season and set a freshman scoring record with 35 points against Auburn. He scored in double figures in 32 of UK's 38 games and had 13 double-figure rebound games. He shot 44.2 percent from the field. He blocked 72 shots and had 43 steals. How can he improve on those numbers?
"There is always room for improvement. There are a lot of things in my game that need improvement. My shot, my ballhandling, defense, speed, strength. All those are things that I?work on," Jones said.
NBAdraft.net listed Jones' strengths as his versatility and ability to score in a variety of ways and noted he had "excellent creativity off the bounce, breakdown ability and a quick first step" in its draft analysis at the end of last season. It also complimented his ability to use the pump fake to get open shots.
"His wingspan is outrageous allowing him to rebound out of his area, block shots at their apex and get his hands into passing lanes. Length, lateral mobility and quickness off the deck make him a versatile force on the defensive end and on both backboards," the NBAdraft.net analysis said.