Like most freshman, Matt Jones had both good and trying moments during his freshman season at Duke. The Texan native showed flashes of a bright future a season ago, playing good defense, but also hit that so-called freshman wall as the year wore on. Jones has been working out ever since the Blue Devils unexpected early NCAA exit and he hopes that work and added maturity advances his game to where he is a key contributor on a team which should have a deep and strong backcourt. Blue Devil nation recently caught up to Jones for a brief chat –
What have you been doing since the season ended?
I was able to go home and spend some time with family and get some familiar faces around me and get my mind right for the upcoming season.
What will you be doing this summer? Any camps or things planned?
I am actually going to go back home and be around my family where I will be working out with my trainer Jerome and get my body right.
Who is Jerome and how does he come into play here?
He’s my shooting coach. He talks to me about basketball related stuff and off the court things as well.
Coach Krzyzewski recently addressed the media. One of the things he mentioned was the fact that you and Semi Ojeleye are older players now and that you could both contribute.
Last year my maturity definitely got to me. I was, like he said a problem of the freshman wall but overall, I’m at a good place now with basketball and my mentality to the game. I’ve been doing it now for a year and I’ and more aware m now a sophomore of what goes on and things like that, so as for going into next year, I am prepared.
You came into school early a season ago and it seemed as if you really concentrated on your defense in order to play early. I know Coach K has said in the past that you had a good defensive coach who taught the fundamentals. Anyhow, am I right in that?
I always felt I could play defense. And yes, going back to high school my coach relayed the message to play “D.” So coming in, it wasn’t so much something I worked on, it’s just something I’ve always done.
Talk about what you feel you role could be on this years team. I know the coaches are still going over that and evaluating the roster, but have they shared anything with you there?
I feel like I can be a leader, but role wise I just want to be a good player and do what they ask of me.
You were a friend and teammate of Julius Randle who will be in the upcoming NBA draft. Have to him since his decision?
Yeah, I hung out with him a little bit at home before I got back here, so we are definitely close and I am just happy for him that he can pursue his dreams.
So, you sort of needed a fresh break? Was that the reason you went home?
Yes sir, to see familiar faces. I will head back home this coming Monday after the Academy and I will return on the 27th and when I come back it will be time to go to work.
What do you think about new assistant Jon Scheyer and Capel who K said would take on a huge role this year?
Well, Capel recruited me so there is a bond there. And Scheyer? He was somebody I could go to and talk to last year with my immaturity issue and he’s ben through it, so he was able to help me keep my spirit up