For Houston Rockets second-year forward Terrence Jones, the last few years of basketball have been a whirlwind.
In his freshman season in 2010-11 with the Kentucky Wildcats, Jones was one of the top freshman in the country. He helped lead the Wildcats all the way to the Final Four, where they fell by one point to the Connecticut Huskies. Instead of entering the NBA Draft and being a potential lottery pick, Jones decided to go back to Kentucky for one more season. This time, however, he was slightly overshadowed by the presence of stud freshman Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Still, Jones was one of the best players on the team as Kentucky went on to win the National Championship in his sophomore season. Following that year, the athletic forward decided to enter the draft. The Rockets selected him with their 18th pick in the first round. Since then, it’s been a long road to the top for Jones.
He appeared in just 19 games in his rookie season. He spent most of his time in the D-League with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers as the Rockets hoped he would keep working on his skills and develop his game. The Rockets were even open to trading their rookie if the right deal came along. Instead, the team decided to keep him in hopes that he would eventually fulfill his potential.
Jones’s second season in the NBA started off very similarly to his rookie year. The Rockets acquired Dwight Howard in the offseason and initially paired him with Omer Asik in the starting lineup with Chandler Parsons manning the other forward position. Omri Casspi was also coming off a strong preseason, leaving practically no minutes to spare for Jones. Through the first seven games of the season, he played only 15 minutes.
Against the Toronto Raptors on November 11, coach Kevin McHale gave Jones his first big time minutes of the season. In 32 minutes of action, he scored seven points, grabbed 10 boards and swatted four shots.
The second-year player has not looked back. He’s had 13 double-doubles this season. For the year, he’s averaging 11.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game while shooting 51.1 percent from the floor. Jones is now a mainstay in the Rockets’ starting five, a true testament to his hard work. On January 18 against the Milwaukee Bucks, he scored 25 points in the first half and finished the game with 36 points to go with 11 rebounds.
It was a rocky start to an NBA career for the 22-year-old out of Portland, Oregon. However, it seems like things are going in the right direction for him.