National player of the year awards are not won in the preseason, let alone in an intrasquad scrimmage. But Kentucky forward Terrence Jones managed to provide a reminder to those who may have overlooked him in the preseason discussion by scoring 52 points and grabbing 16 rebounds in the Wildcats' Blue-White scrimmage on Wednesday.
Jones was 24-for-31 from the field and added six assists, two steals and a blocked shot the day after coach John Calipari indicated who he felt was the best player in the country.
"Terrence Jones right now, I'll tell you, if there’s a better player in the country, I've got to see him," Calipari told reporters. "Maybe that guy's in our gym. I don't know. But if there is somebody better than Terrence, I've got to see it."
Jones, a 6-foot-9 sophomore, had declined to enter the NBA draft even after averaging 15.7 and 8.8 rebounds in a year when the Wildcats went to the Final Four. He hopes another year at Kentucky will put him into the top 10 in next year's draft, and tonight's performance was a strong opening statement.
The game doesn't count in the standings, and playing against friendly faces, defense isn't always the main focus in games like these. But the 52 points Jones scored is still 52 points. His intangibles were also on display, according to the Kentucky Kernel.
More importantly than the stats, though -- this is a scrimmage, after all -- was the mentality he displayed in constantly attacking the rim. He didn’t settle for jump shots. With his performance, Jones established himself as the clear leader of this team, as he should be.
Even while playing among the top recruiting class in the country, Jones found a way to stand out. Little is guaranteed on the road to becoming the national player of the year or a top NBA draft pick, but for tonight, Jones and his stats certainly stood out.