LAHAINA, Hawaii -- Kentucky's Terrence Jones is one step closer to facing his scorned former lover.
The former Washington Huskies' commit had 29 points, 13 boards and four blocks in UK's 76-64 victory over Oklahoma in the first round of the EA Sports Maui Invitational. If Washington takes care of business tonight against Virginia, the Wildcats will face the Huskies in the second round.
This summer, when Jones withdrew his commitment to UW, it was a big deal but no one knew quite how meaningful it would be. Jones was considered a top recruit, but wasn't considered in the same league as Harrison Barnes, Perry Jones or Kyrie Irving. Enes Kanter's defection from the Huskies to the Wildcats was seen as the bigger loss.
But in mid-November, it looks like the Huskies may have lost more than they imagined. Kanter has been ruled ineligible by the NCAA and Jones has more than stepped in to fill the void.
He's off to a monster start for the Wildcats. He scored 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the season opener against Eastern Tennessee State and had 12 points and five boards versus Portland.
Against Oklahoma, Jones looked like a potential superstar. He scored from everywhere on the floor, crashed the boards and even led the break for the Wildcats.
"When I recruited him, I thought he was the best recruit in the country," Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel said. "Others got more accolades, but I felt like no one could impact the game in more ways than Jones could."
"He's truly a point forward," Capel continued. "When we recruited him, I loved him. I didn't love him this afternoon."
His own head coach, John Calipari, wasn't ready to jump on the bandwagon just yet. Calipari responded to a question about his versatility by stating simply, "He's alright."
When I asked Calipari if Jones was the best freshman in the country, his response? "Today. Today. I told him a week ago I love you and I love coaching you, but it's going to be hard ... He's not used to playing that hard. As the game gets more physical, we'll find out if he's that guy."
NBA scouts in attendance raved about his versatility, energy and basketball IQ. A number of scouts compared him to a young Lamar Odom. We have him ranked No. 9 in our Top 100 NBA draft prospects, and if he keeps this up his ceiling goes all the way to the top.
One NBA scout wondered if he might be the best player in the country. "If he continues to play this way, he's going very, very high in the draft," a NBA scout who attended the game told ESPN.com. "He could even be the No. 1 pick in the draft. He's does all the things Harrison Barnes does and he's bigger and so far, he's been better."
But that may be getting ahead of ourselves. As Calipari noted, Jones hasn't faced the highest level of competition yet. That could be tomorrow if Washington advances. Jones, for his part, is taking it in stride.
"I'm not worried; I'm ready to play anybody," Jones said. "I know a lot of guys on that team. I have a good relationship with Coach Romar. I'm just trying to get better."