|Terrence Jones makes good again. He's marketing himself like a pro. (Maggie Ruper)|
Until the final 10 games or so of his college career, you could have easily made the argument that Terrence Jones was the most polarizing Kentucky player during his time there. He took plays off. He pouted. He was frequently the whipping boy for John Calipari.
When his play didn't reflect his talent, some Kentucky fans would mockingly call him "Clarence" Jones, referring to some sort of Jekyll and Hyde routine the NBA-bound power forward would revert to on a somewhat-frequent basis. There were times -- most notoriously the Indiana game from last December -- when Jones looked purely disinterested with playing the game.
He never became a public enemy, but he was easily the most frustrating player for UK fans to deal with the past two seasons because he was so good and it didn't show every game the way Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and John Wall continually displayed their talent.
But on the way to Kentucky's national championship this past season, Jones played better and better, became comfortable in his role on the team (whereas he was once seen as the alpha, it was clear his role was suited better as an impact supporter, the No. 3 guy) and had fewer and fewer relapses into poor play and poorer body language.
And now? Jones is leaving Lexington on good terms -- with everybody. The Kentucky sophomore has been making the rounds lately, improving his reputation and becoming more beloved by the day. Over the weekend he was scribbling his John Hancock on babies and, more incredibly, on babies that aren't even babies yet while signing autographs in Kentucky.
Above, you see Jones giving flowers ... to a Louisville cheerleader. Why? They aren't dating, and he isn't in the doghouse. The reason dates back to the Final Four, when Jones was hustling to save a ball and absolutely pummeled poor Jerica Logue. He promised soon thereafter that he'd make good on the collision and give the girl some flowers.
So he stopped by Logue's practice Monday night and dropped off the token of apology. I love how this is on-the-scene news in Kentucky.
Seriously, though, this is nothing but great for Jones. His draft stock isn't improved much by this stuff, but it doesn't hurt. He's helping the brand in a fairly organic way, and make no mistake, this kind of stuff is intentionally put out there by agents to improve their clients' reputations and marketability. Jones is doing as much good off-the-court leading up to the draft as you could expect him to. It's been a good turnaround and perfect "this is what I can turn you into" recruiting pitch for Calipari, too.