BY Bob Sherwin 07:56AM 01/10/2011

Ross trying to be the Terrence to remember

UW freshman under the shadow of long-time friend Terrence Jones

Washington's Terrence Ross against Oregon. (Drew Sellers/Sportspress Northwest)

It’s Terrence Ross. TRoss. TR. Instant-offense.

That’s who he is. No matter how many times you might be confused by it, Terrence Ross is not Terrence Jones. While they are friends, while they grew up together in Portland and while they are both college freshman and exceptional basketball players, one is not the other.

Terrence Ross is a 6-6, 195-pound guard for the University of Washington. Terrence Jones is a 6-8, 245-pound forward for the University of Kentucky. They are miles apart yet they continue to be inexorably linked, at least in this part of the country.

Even UW Coach Lorenzo Romar has fallen victim to the blurred Ross/Jones identity. After the Huskies 73-67 overtime victory Dec. 29 over USC – in which Ross scored a then season-high 18 points off the bench – Romar twice called Terrence Ross Terrence Jones in his post-game radio interview.

“For me, I hate to make that mistake,” Romar said, “but I have three daughters, Terra, Taylor and Tavia. And I’m talking to Terra and I’ll say, ‘now Taylor, I mean Tavia, I mean Terra.’ I do that all the time. It’s my incompetence.

“I don’t know if that happens anywhere other than here. I don’t know if they call Terrence Jones Terrence Ross in Kentucky because he (Ross) he wasn’t on everyone’s mind. Back in Portland it may be the case. They call them TRoss and TJones.”

Indeed, it is the same in Portland. During last week’s Pac-10 coaches conference call, a writer for Portland’s Oregonian newspaper asked USC coach Kevin O’Neill what his impressions were of Terrence Jones.

““He’s obviously a big time player,” said O’Neill, who then paused, no doubt wondering why a Pac-10 writer would ask about a Kentucky player. “Are you talking about Terrence Jones of Kentucky?”

No, he wasn’t. Another Ross/Jones confuser. He meant Ross but said Jones.

“When your 10th man or ninth man knocks down 18 points, obviously he’s talented,” O’Neill went on to say. “We knew he could shoot. Obviously, he’s a good player. He really helped them win that game. He looks like an instant-offense type of guy. He’s got size, he’s got length and shooting ability.”

It can happen to anyone, like me. Pitching a piece about Terrence Ross to my editor I offered the name Terrence Jones.

The reason for mixing up is because both players seemingly were destined to play for the Huskies. They played together as youngsters then a couple seasons at Portland’s Jefferson High School. They are as close as brothers. They then had an elaborate made-for-local-TV signing event last April 30 in which the both wore purple Husky ‘W’ caps and announced their intentions to play together at UW.

Ross signed; Jones declined. He needed time to consider. Reconsider. Three weeks later, he announced that he would play for Kentucky. UK Coach John Calipari said Jones called him first to start the wheels in motion, not the other way around. We’ll take that at Calipari’s word, although that has been known to be inventive at times.

Ross and Jones chose different paths. They separated physically, but the clouded connection continues to shadow Ross.

“It doesn’t frustrate me,” Ross said. “We grew up together. People always recruited us together. People are always going bring up one with the other because we’re so close to each other. It’s not something that makes me upset or angry.

“I’m definitely happy for him. We talk a lot. We both feel like we made the right decision for both of us. We’re just happy the way things turned out.”

Does Ross, who talks to Jones on the phone every week, think about what could have been had both come to UW?

“I think about that a little bit,” he said, “but not too much.”

He leaves that debate for the rest of us.

They are two different type of players as well. Jones is a left-hand-shooting forward who works inside the lane, although he also is a perimeter scoring threat. Ross is a premium perimeter guy, although the coaching staff wants him to attack the basket more.

Jones, who has started all 15 games for the 12-3 Wildcats, is second on the team in scoring (17.2) by one-tenth of a point, second in rebounding (9.2) and first in blocked shots (1.8). He leads the team in foul shots (100), because of his aggressiveness inside, but is just eighth in FT percentage (62.0).

Jones has led his team seven times in scoring with a high of 29 against Oklahoma. He had 17 rebounds and four blocks, both season highs, in the Wildcats 74-67 victory over the Huskies Nov. 23 in the Maui Invitational.

But in perhaps UK’s biggest game, Dec. 4 against North Carolina, Jones scored a season-low nine points, shooting 3-of-17, and fouled out with 3:04 left. Kentucky lost, 75-73.

Ross, as a bench player, is averaging just 14.7 minutes and 8.3 points per game for the 12-3 Huskies. He hasn’t had the extended minutes to establish a reliable pattern. He is a better three-point shooter (37.3 percent) than Jones but the coaching staff wants him to take the ball inside more.

“They’re telling me to use more pump fakes,” Ross said, “to try to get to the basket more and get to the free-throw line. If a man is contesting my shot or running at me, I need to pump fake.”

What the two do have in common – and it must be in the Portland water – is a shooter’s conscience. Or rather, lack of one. Jones leads the team in field goals attempts, 13.7 per game with a high of 19, but is fifth in FG percentage (46.3). He’s seventh on the team in three-point percentage (31.6).

Ross is an unabashed shooter. He acts like a basketball in his hands is on fire. The sooner he unloads it, the better he feels. Next time he takes a pass, count how many seconds it takes to heave it up. You might not get to one one-thousand.

“He doesn’t have any problems shooting the basketball, whether it goes in or not,” Romar said. “When you have a guy who does not have a conscience that way – and we’re not necessarily trying to give him a conscience – I don’t like to say a whole lot to a scorer.”

Romar might discuss it in film study or meetings, but during a game his attitude is “go play.” Romar believes that if he has an animated reaction to every missed or ill-conceived shot, that can have a detrimental affect of the shooter’s confidence.

“Maybe with Terrence, it wouldn’t matter anyway,” he said. “But I tend to back off them a little bit, learn as we go.”

He said Ross’ 18 bench points were critical to the Huskies’ victory over USC. He reminded him of one other time a freshman in his first Pac-10 game doing that – Isaiah Thomas. On Jan. 3, 2009, Thomas either assisted or scored 15 of his team’s first 17 points, finishing with 19, in a 68-48 victory over Washington State.

“Terrence did that. He hit three 3s in the first half when we were out of sorts a bit,” Romar said. “You think about what Terrence did down the stretch. We’re going to him down on the block. He scored a couple big baskets with the game on the line. He did it with poise. That speaks volumes to what kind of player he’s going to be.”

Then last Thursday against Oregon State, Ross had an even more remarkable game. He scored a career-high 25 points, making 11 of 18 attempts, inside and outside. It was the highest output for a Husky freshman since Dec. 30, 2008 when Thomas had 27 against Morgan State. Saturday, Ross had 14 points in 16 minutes against Oregon State.

Ross said that he’s ”privileged” to be in a program in which, as a freshman, the coach allows shot-selection freedom.

“A lot of guys I talk to don’t have the green light,” Ross said. “I don’t want to take advantage took much and have it taken away.”

That’s not going to happen. It’s in his DNA. He could sponsor a cereal Pop-N-Shoot.

“If I’m comfortable or open or enough time to get off,” he said, “I take the shot.”

He’s still learning. He’s still fighting for minutes. He’s not about to start yet, although that’s coming. He’s just trying to move up the rotation on the highly-competitive bench that also includes C.J. Wilcox and Scott Suggs. Those two also are not exactly hesitant shot-takers.

“There’s not so much pressure on any of us because so many guys who can score,” Ross said. “It’s kind of relaxing for us. If our shots aren’t falling, Scott or C.J. or Justin (Holiday) can go in there and get the shot. You don’t have to stress about it so much.

There is one other significant difference between TRoss and TJones. There is a good chance that Jones may be a one-and-done player, like Kentucky churns out so frequently. He may declare for the next NBA draft. Ross is not there yet. He may even be a four-year contributor, annually improving as well as proving that this is a Terrence to remember.


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