Prep Focus • Sophisticated play from sophomores Terrance Ross and Terrance Jones gives Jeff a jolt
The physical talents of the Jefferson High Terrances stand out, no question about it. They have skills and they have upside, and it's no wonder coaches from Seattle to Los Angeles to Chapel Hill, N.C., already have started recruiting them.
But something else becomes readily apparent when Terrance Ross and Terrance Jones play for the Democrats. They aren't sloppy sophomores, prone to mistakes playing against seniors. They are polished and pretty darn mature on the basketball court.
The 6-6 Ross says he learned poise while playing hoops with his father, Terry Ross, who played in the old Continental Basketball Association.
'Since I was about 10, I'd play with the older dudes,' says Ross, a deadly outside shooter. 'It made me tough, helped me in the long run.'
The 6-7 Jones plays all five positions off the bench for the Democrats - seriously - and when he is at his natural position of point guard, he conjures up some thoughts of Magic Johnson. That's the kind of poise he displays when working his defender downcourt, busting through a press or beating a halfcourt trap.
'It's just from being taught how to play point guard and look down the floor for teammates,' says Jones, who also can shoot the 3.
The emergence of Ross and Jones, combined with the steady play of seniors Tyrone White, Henry Williams and Kalonji Paschal, has the Democrats thinking big - state title, although the defending champion North Eugene Highlanders will have something to say about who rules the Class 5A ranks.
With the two sophs and three seniors, these aren't your father's Demos, or your brother's or your older cousin's. In beating Grant 68-54 on Friday, the Democrats (10-1 going into Monday night's game with Roosevelt) displayed good ballhandling throughout the lineup and good discipline in not just hoisting up 3-pointers. The Demos can run, certainly, but coach Marshall Haskins has a careful and calculating group.
'I felt like we were going to be good, but I didn't know how long it would take, because of the whole senior-sophomore thing and how we'd manage it,' Haskins says. 'Henry, Tyrone and Kalonji, it's not that they're acquiescing, but they're sacrificing for the team to win.'
Ross starts, and Jones comes off the bench wherever Haskins needs him.
'I start with the seniors, to keep chemistry right,' the coach says. 'We have guards, and we're balanced. Tyrone could be a 1, Henry's a 1, Kalonji's a 1 and Jones is a 1. Being able to use them, it makes the game a little easier. I'm playing Jones at the 5 (sometimes) because it works for our team. But he's a true point guard.'
The two Terrances combined for 29 points against the Generals.
'I call them the twin towers,' Grant guard Paul McCoy says. 'They're big, long and they can run and shoot.
'(Ross) is a shooter, I like his game. He'll be coming out of Jeff to do something big someday. (Jones), they can do whatever they want with him.'
But McCoy stops short of the Magic comparison on Jones - 'I wouldn't go that far,' he says.
Seniors were familiar faces
While McCoy played for the Team Jones AAU older team, Ross and Jones played on the younger team. The Terrances also play with other Jefferson players in the summer, which made the transition into their sophomore prep years appear seamless. They already knew how Haskins wanted his team to play.
Haskins also says the presence of Paschal, Williams and White takes pressure off the sophs, because teams have to defend the seniors.
Adding to what Haskins says about the senior-sophomore 'thing,' Ross says he tries to feed off the older players.
'We're pretty good with the seniors; it's kind of like a rivalry,' he says.
Jones adds: 'They welcomed us. Since we were little, I've known the seniors who are on the team now. When we play with them, it's like playing at the park with them.'
The likes of UCLA, Arizona, North Carolina and Washington State have their sights set on recruiting Ross. He's more athletic than Thomas Gardner, the ex-Demo and Missouri star, Haskins says.
Ross has been asked to bury outside shots, mostly, but 'I go to the rack every now and then. Some teams don't know I can shoot, so they'll let me take open shots. When they play me up close, it allows me to go to the bucket.'
He's working on defense, posting up, ballhandling, passing and running the floor.
Ross wears No. 23, but not for one reason you would think - to be like LeBron James. Nope, he goes old-school in saying, 'I've had the number since I was little; it'd be more for Michael (Jordan) than LeBron.'
Jones wears No. 3, but not for obvious reasons, as he is related to former city stars Antoine Stoudamire (a cousin, with whom he works on his game) and Damon Stoudamire. 'The seniors get to pick their jersey first, and I had to pick 3 because it was the last one there,' Jones says.
Both players still growing
Washington, Arizona State and Oregon State are among the schools interested in Jones. He has a good all-around game, but he truly wants to be a point guard. He's a terrific low dribbler.
'I'll shoot one or two (3-pointers) a game, but I don't want that to be what I'm known for,' Jones says. 'I've always played point guard. I just like having the ball in my hands.
'But I just like the role of coming in and doing whatever the coaches ask me to do. I don't have one dominant role.'
Both have worked with noted basketball tutor Howard Avery. They call each other good friends.
Ross and Jones got their taste of varsity last season, sitting on the bench for the Class 5A tournament with the Demos. Each is still growing, and Jones could reach 6-10.
To a lesser extent, so far, Noah Kone has been a super soph for the Demos as well. The 6-7 Kone, who wears No. 33, plays post on junior varsity and varsity. 'He will also be good, in time,' Haskins says.
Meanwhile, Haskins says cell phones already are affixed to his and the assistant coaches' ears, fielding calls from college coaches.
'I let the others take the calls,' Haskins says, except 'I talk with Roy Williams,' the North Carolina coach he once worked with in the recruitment of Jefferson stars Aaron Miles and Michael Lee.