There is no question who will run the point this coming basketball season for Duke. Another Jones is in town and he's been working on his game and leading a new group of Blue Devils.
Tre Jones is following in his brothers footsteps and those are some big shoes to fill. Tyus Jones simply led Duke to their last National Championship, earning the name "Stones." while nailing a key three point shot before his team's celebration.
Let me go ahead and tell you, when you have a Jones running a team, good things are bound to happen. Unlike his brother, Tre Jones is probably more athletic and stronger coming in. He had the luxury of watching his brother while at Duke, not to mention gaining experience from him as a tutor.
Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said Tre was more prepared than Tyus coming in during his press conference at the Emily K Center. And that comment should excite Duke fans.
"Not to put any pressure on him I would agree with Coach," said Tyus Jones during the Coach K Academy. He continued, "He is definitely ahead of where I was and he just has to continue to advance."
Tre Jones has clearly been given the keys to dirve the team this season. Here is the interview with Tre Jones -
So,what is it like to be on the Duke campus?
It's been amazing so far. Just being around here and other guys that have been through here already is a lot of fun.
Coach K was talking about your game earlier today at the Emily K Center. He said you were very advanced and when you passed the ball it was to places that would score. Talk a little bit about that and your brother Tyus.
Right. Yeah, just growing up and watching him, that's something he always did extremely well. For myself, I just try to watch a lot of basketball year round and some of the top players in the world. So, that is just something I take from other people's game.
He also said you were more advance than Tyus coming in ...
Right. It is probably just from watching him so much and learning everything he went through before. So, there are some things I will get a jump on. He has been a big influence on my game.
How does your mom (Debbie) feel about being able to come back and watch Duke games again? She is probably getting use to campus.
She is. She is just extremely blessed. And that is something she says all the time how blessed she is. So, that's definitely how she is feeling.
What are the coaches telling you to work on and or how to have interchanges with the players?
I am just working on all aspects of my game to be able to come in here and have an impact right away. I know that in order for that to happen I just have to work on everything.
On the upcoming trip to Canada ...
It should be a lot of fun to take the trip even before the school year gets started. I think it will be a big chance for bonding as well; not just on the floor but off it as well. Just being away from family and away from friends and being around each other will be a good experience.
Have you been talking with the other freshman a lot and if so what do you talk about?
Right. We talk daily and it has just been great so far. We all want to win and that is out main objective just to win. We have a great friendship coming in and we just want to work right away.
On playing where Tyus did and a possible shadow ...
People say I follow in his footsteps but I mean this has always been my dream school to come here and play for Coach K. It was the best fit for me, myself. So just choosing to come here was one of the best chances to win a championship and that is one of my main goals at Duke.
Closing comment - Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said that the ball does not stick in Tre Jones hands. What that means is that he believes in ball movement be it advancing the ball or immediately hitting open scorers. Tre likes to drive to the hoop more than his brother Tyus but he will face a lot of zone at Duke with athletic cutters on his team. He will need to learn how to bust zones from the outside as well. All in all, Duke has a true point guard who does not let emotion dictate his play. Like his brother Tyus, he plays the game in a cool manner and under control.
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If you have ever wondered if Tyus Jones thinks back to making that three-point shot against Wisconsin which helped Duke seal the deal for the last National Championship banner, the answer is yes.
The former Duke standout has been following his brother, Tre, another Blue Devil recruit around this summer. Much like his recruitment, their mom, Debbie, is in tow with other family members cheering him every step of the way.
If one attends any of the Nike events or those in Las Vegas this past week, they will see Tyus Jones mingling with Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. The reason, again, is that he is there to watch Tre as is the Blue Devils head honcho at every opportunity,
Tyus Jones most recently granted Blue Devil Nation an interview. And who better to speak of his brother and his ascent to the top of the rankings in the past several months?
You can be seen chatting with Coach K and his staff at many events while watching your brother. Your mom, Debbie is in the stands and so much reminds me of your recruitment. What is it like following your brother, Tre, now?
It's a lot of fun for me because as an older brother I know of all the work he puts in and the hours he spends in the gym dedicating himself to improve as a player. So, for me, it is fun to see it pay off and the you can see the success follows.
Tre blew up in the rankings. I mean, he flew under the radar a bit as a junior playing with current Duke player Gary Trent. How did it make you feel when everybody started talking about his game this year? Did you see it coming?
Anytime you see anyone you are close to, be it family, friends, loved ones you are always happy for him. But I knew it was coming from how hard he works to improve as a player. But to see it happen is always fun to be a part of.
It is always a family affair, Your mom is there and it says a lot that you come to see him play in the summer and that you are willing to do so in the NBA off-season.
That is what our family is about. Being there and supporting one another. All my tournaments had my mother, older brother and uncle. We roll deep so for me if I have the opportunity to come out and watch him play, I definitely want to make sure I am there supporting him just like he did for me.
You guys have obviously gone against each other on the court at times growing up. When is the last time you actually faced off?
Played against each other? We played against each other last in the Minnesota Pro Am last season. That was always fun. It is always fun to go against each other. We play one on one all the time and worked out together almost everyday. So we do a lot of one on one, game like situations but that was probably the last time we played against each other.
I doubt there is anyone who could give a better scouting report on Tre than yourself. So what is your take on his game?
Tremendous leader, tremendous floor general who is a do it all point guard on the floor and one of the best I have seen or played against and he is only in high school right now. On offense, he is an unbelievable finisher in the lane and can get in the lane whenever he wants to. Unbelievable range on his shot and just has great equipment.
One thing I have noticed is that you guys hate to lose.
I was in Hampton earlier this season and Howard Pulley lost their first game. He was distraught and obviously hated that feeling. Where does that come from in the Jones family?
It is just our competitive nature. It is how we've always been and how our family has been. We have a very competitive family who are always in competition trying to win. So that is something we both pride ourselves on, especially as point guards.
Of course, his team went on a tear after that loss and he played lights out while stuffing the stat sheet.
Yeah, they didn't lose much this year and every time they do lose, he takes it personal. It's something he doesn't want to experience or feel that often.
That 2015 National Championship...you carry that ring with you now. How does that make you feel in this day and time when you think back on it?
Amazing. Just playing with Jah (Jahlil Okafor), one of my best friends. Playing for the best coach of all time in Coach K and being a part of that Duke family is something I will never forget and will cherish,. And winning a championship is something they can never take away from me. They can never take that ring and they can never take that banner away from us. We worked so hard for it and put so much time and effort in for that one moment of standing up on the stage together and celebrating being the best team in the country.
That was awesome...
Your team, the Minnesota Timberwolves have made a lot of moves in of late. Are you looking forward to the season and do you think the team will take that next step?
I am extremely excited and yeah I do. I just think everybody is ready to take that next step. Everyone is ready tor turn things around and make the playoff. The whole organization is all about that.
You mentioned Jah earlier. Do you guys still stay in touch?
Yes sir. All the time, all the time. We talk regularly a couple of times a week even if it is something small, we text or get face time no matter what it is. We are in constant communication and that will be forever.
I know God and faith means a lot to you. Talk a little about that.
Faith means a lot to me. It is something I believe heavy in and couldn't be where I am today. So, I am very thankful for the position I am in and very thankful for my family and everything God has blessed me with in life. I know without Him I am nothing.
Do you ever pinch yourself thinking wow, I have had a lot of success at such a young age.
I do. I do for sure. It is very humbling when I take a step back and look at where I am as a 21-year-old and the experiences I have had in 21 years of life. It helps keep me in such a great mood everyday of my life in that I could have experienced things a lot different. That is why you will never hear me complain.
I have seen you stop and talk to Jeff Capel and Coach K during the AAU events. What is it like to see those guys again?
It's just family. Coach K is like a father figure to me. When he started recruiting me it was never like I am coach and you're player. It was always a family feel and that was the same with Coach Capel and everyone there. Everyone involved in Duke Basketball is all about family.
You have said you would stay out of the recruiting situation, but part of you has to be glad Duke is all in on your brother.
Yes sir. Obviously, it is the school I went to and I am definitely glad they are involved. I have said from day one I will not get involved with his recruitment because I went through the exact same thing. I know how stressful it can be and what it means to have your family members there to support you. So, I always said I will never pressure him to go to where I went. And that is just how that is going to go.
I can help but see how your recruitment and your brothers does seem to be following a similar path. You were a guy who took all of his visits.
Yeah, yeah. I think he is trying tot make his decision in a similar way after seeing what I did. At this point in his career it is a big decision for his life and very critical. So if he takes his time or whatever we will be supportive of him. And when he decides he is ready to make that decision, whatever it is, we'll be there backing him and very happy for him.
I know your mom Debbie is close by. Are there anymore Jones on the way?
(Smiling) Naw, this is it. I have three nephews now. My older brother has three boys, so that is the direction things are moving in now.
So, this is the last go round for Debbie. This has been a big part of her life...
Yeah it is and it has. I couldn't have asked for a better mother and role model. She goes to every single game we've plays and has been unbelievable in her support. Not a lot of kids can say that there mom is always there and he dedication is appreciated. Even in my college games, she was going to as many as she could and it is just really special.
Tyus Jones has remained humble. You have an NBA contract, a national championship and a highly recruited brother yet you seem to be on such stable ground. What is the secret to that?
Just be thankful for what is in front of you and what is given you because it can be taken away in the blink of an eye.
If you could shout out a message to all the Duke fans that follow you, what would it be?
That they're the best fans in the world and I will never take that for granted. I will never forget the many memories that we share.
There are plenty of reasons for excitement when talking Duke Basketball in that the program constantly maintains excellence. It's nothing new for Duke to have a banner class of freshman coming in where they will be molded by Mike Krzyzewski into a unit upon his return for duties with USA Basketball.
Having covered the AAU trail for many years and the young men coming in ad nauseam, the one thing that stands out to me is the overall maturity of this bunch. Many times, it's hard for the fan base to realize that these guys are still teenagers and until they're on campus it's hard to get a really good feel for how they might react to the new and faster game speed and all the other intangibles with concern to adjustment.
Duke will get an immediate infusion of talent from their incoming class and we take a look at what some of these adept newcomers bring to the table which are all the opinions of one man who saw them play multiple times.
Tyus Jones - When I started covering Tyus Jones heavily during his rising junior season, the one thing I remembered from seeing him at a younger age was that he knew how to win. Jones was not especially flashy, so there was no early grab in my mind's eye when he was a rising sophomore. As I continued to watch him I saw a cool customer and a player that would stuff the stat sheet in a steady manner. It was like, did this guy just do all that while I was watching when looking down the box score. That led me to realize that this young man was a true point guard and one who made everybody around him better. In short, he's a winner. Jones has a knack for controlling the game and he helped his Howard Pulley AAU team over achieve in that they had little around him in comparison to other teams on the Nike circuit. Jones is not going to jump out of the gym or go down the lane for a flamboyant dunk. But what he will do is find the open man and help them to have the flashy play. At Duke, Tyus Jones will have a lot of weapons around him and that should make his acumen for dishing assists even more impressive. Another thing you will see when watching Jones is that he remains emotionally stable at all times. He moves on to the next play and that puts him in position to always help his team. Jones draws the defense in at times but he is also adept at slithering through the lane for an easy lay in when others are looking for the kick out and he has the ability to knock down the jump shot. Jones will need to work on his on ball defense at the college level, but Duke got the best pure point guard in the class and a kid you will fall in love with for his commitment to his teammates and winning.
Justise Winslow - Known by the nickname of "Chief Justise," Justise Winslow brings a very solid skill set to the court. What you will first notice about young Winslow is his toughness and his ability to guard multiple positions. Winslow has the ability to pull his defender out or take them to the rack and he can easily post up smaller defenders when mismatches come his way. Winslow has a good handle and you can bet that the Duke coaching staff will use him as a defensive stopper early on. Like Jones, Winslow stays level when playing the game, but he has a fiery can-do side and he's physically mature for his age. Winslow can shoot the jumper with good range or power in the lane on offense and he likes to mix it up. His value to this coming years team will likely be on the defensive end where his footwork is ahead of the curve. On the offensive end, he can draw some mismatches and like all the Duke freshman, he can run the floor. Winslow is one of the more versatile players I have seen coming into Duke and you will love his confidence which is a vital part of his game.
Jahlil Okafor - Duke got their man of choice in the middle in Chicago native Jahlil Okafor. Coach Mike Krzyzewski is not one to guarantee a starting role or playing time to any prospect, but he's already said that the offense would look to run through and around the best post player during last years recruiting class. Okafor has good hands and like the aforementioned two incoming freshman keeps his cool on the court rarely getting too high or too low. He was a beast on the AAU courts last summer and he has a long running relationship with Tyus Jones which will provide immediate chemistry. Okafor knows how to use his frame and get a player on his hip and he has good court vision. The Duke staff has obviously been working with Okafor on nutrition and in the weight room and the budding star has reshaped his body or frame. It's a little harder for me to project Okafor in that I have yet to see him play with a trimmed down frame, but common sense says he is likely to be even quicker on his feet which is vital as the college game is much faster than AAU ball. Okafor is the most likely of the freshman to be one and done, so Duke fans should enjoy him while they can. Having a true post player to play alongside Blue Devil veterens like Marshall Plumlee will help to give the team the ability to get out and press or trap more in that they have a man to slow down the break aways in the post. And Okfor will certainly help to develop Sean Obi, the big man transfer from Rice who will be eligible the following season.
Grayson Allen - During the annual Nike Peach Jam, Allen sent word to Duke that he was playing in an event just down the road called the Peach State Classic. Allen grew up a Duke fan and was playing for an AAU team that was not on the national radar. It didn't take long for Mike Krzyzewski to take a look after word came back from assistant coaches that he can play. At the time, Allen was ranked in the top 100 at best but as more evaluators saw him and Duke offered he entered the top 25's of many. Allen is one of those "Did he really just do that?," kind of guys. He can throw down some impressive dunks which belies his look test at first glance and smile while doing it. Allen can also drain the ball from deep and has the ability to become a fan favorite with his dunks. Many may remember Olek Czyz exciting crowds at the N.C. Pro AM years back, with his dunks but Allen does similar things with an all around game in tow as well. Allen enjoys playing the game and that is important and he takes a joke well. He was quick to give me a smile when I joked with him about his size 17 at the time flappers or show size. Maybe that's why he has such surprising up's.
Collectively, this is one of the more impressive classes the staff has been fortunate enough to land. There is balance in that there is a true post player, a true point guard, a versatile wing and an explosive wing. But in the end it will come down to how they integrate with the Blue Devils veterans players. This seasons Blue Devils will be a mix of very young players and some guys who have seen the ACC wars. We're not that far off from seeing these kids first hand and what they look like after the capable coaching staff has worked with them. The public will have a chance to see this years version of the Duke Men's Basketball team on October 25th for Countdown to Craziness. Tickets are currently available through the Duke ticket office.
Cameron Indoor Stadium will be a extra lively tonight but not because there is a game against Florida Atlantic. Just a couple of hours prior to tip-off, the nations top center Jahlil Okafor and the top point guard Tyus Jones committed to play their college careers at Duke University.
Now that the anticipation is over and the two have become the package deal they said they would, Duke will turn its attention to superb wing Justise Winslow.
Okafor and Jones made their decisions on ESPNU, each from their high school. The Blue Devils were fully involved throughout their recruitment with Coach Mike Kryzewski taking on a huge role.
In Okafor, Duke gets the post player it covets and he'll allow players on the roster to move to their more natural positions. Okafor is a dominant post player with the ability to anchor a defense all by himself.
Jones is the ultimate team player and a point guard who found his Howard Pulley teammates in an effortless manner on the AAU circuit.
Jones and Okafor made a recent trip to Duke for their official visit and they also attended Countdown for Craziness the season before last.
While a lot of hype surrounded their recruitment, the two became a package deal as they said they would.
The Blue Devils were always in strong with the duo and they never let up their efforts to make them know how coveted they were.
It was quite simply, a huge day for Duke Basketball recruiting.
Every Duke Basketball fan in America knows that some of the nation's finest prospects will visit campus this weekend. The nation's top point guard Tyus Jones, the nation's top center Jahlil Okafor, and a well-rounded wing in Justise Winslow will make their official visits, including taking in Saturday's exhibition game with Bowie State.
All three recruits have visited Duke before, but this is it: it is the last visit on their schedules, and that means a lot. I mean, how often do we save the best for last in life? Of course, having them on campus means the Blue Devils will have an additional chance to show off their facilities and their dedication to basketball.
There has been plenty of worry amongst the fan base. Just last week people were trying to say that Jones wearing Kansas gear while on his visit there must be a sign. Oh no! Let the panic begin!
But the reality is that he wore their gear out of respect, just as Harrison Barnes did in one of our more famous pictures, which has now been turned into a constant meme on the World Wide Web.
Just recently, some have said, Jones would not like playing second fiddle to current point guard Quinn Cook, but didn't Jay Williams and Chris Duhon fare quite well together? And have you seen how many wins an undermanned Howard Pulley AAU team pulled off under his leadership?
You can find a rumor or unwanted speculation on any message board, but having been through many of these recruiting decisions before, the fan in me is pretty relaxed. Why? First off, as I said, the last visit means more than some think. In my opinion it makes the prospects more the Blue Devils' to lose.
Second, as good as Kansas is and as much respect as I have for their program and what Bill Self has done, the ACC compared to the Big Twelve these days, well, there is no comparison.
Would you rather play UNC, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Louisville and go down Tobacco Road, or would you want your primary rival to be Kansas State or whichever team happens to pop up next year to have a good season in a conference where Oklahome and Texas could bolt for the Pacific coast at any time?
My contention here is that the ACC is prime time in every way, and you will play on what will be an amazing stage. The education and campus are top notch in Durham, as is the location. You're right in the midst of the Triangle area, which is one of the top places to live in America, and you have the beach and mountains on either side.
Then there is the court time Duke offers. Tyus Jones will sit for nobody, and he's a consummate winner on the court. Jahlil Okafor has a wide open spot to walk right into and he's sure to talk with fellow Chicago native Jabari Parker while on campus, and Jabari will surely mention the freedom the Duke system is allowing him.
As for Justise Winslow, a solid baller in every aspect of the game, Duke offers elite basketball and a top-notch education.
In my opinion, it is down to Kansas and Duke for Jones and Okafor, and Arizona and Duke for Winslow. I for one like the odds of Duke getting the stellar class they are seeking.
If you had a child presented with the opportunities Duke offers, to play for the Olympic coach and a living legend, what would you do? When the Cameron Crazies cheer their names and the team plays together as an excited crowd urges them on tomorrow, odds are good that I will not be the only one realizing the opportunity at hand.
The Duke Blue Devils Men's Basketball staff has been steady on the recruiting trail of late but they've now returned home, at least for the moment. Such is the busy nature of trying to nail down this coming years class, not to mention gaining an early edge on underclassmen.
There is still [private] no word on KevonLooney and where he leans, but it's safe to say Duke is right there. The parents seemed sold on the opportunity in Durham but we all know it is eventually up to the kid himself. Looney will make his decision public on October 31st. If you are looking for a leak of where he is leaning, let it be know that his family has for now anyhow, shut down the media.
There has been a lot of paranoia involving Jahlil Okafor and his camp has more or less shut it down for media as well. No date has been officially set as of yet and I do not expect that to change for the next several days. Coach Kyzyzewski and Jeff Capel made a trip to see Okafor recently and by all accounts it was a fruitful visit. Duke is very much in the think of the race here and anybody who tells you differently just doesn't know what they're talking about. No word of late on the package deal and one way to shut down talk of that is to distance yourself from media.
Meanwhile, Tyus Jones is winding down the process and like others, his camp has grown quiet as well. Much of this is due to the family just wanting to sit back and take it all in and I have a feeling you will not hear a whole lot from his way anytime soon as well other than a diary he, along with Okafor, are committed to doing.
Duke has also visited Justise Winslow over the break and all indications are that they are right there. Winslow has yet to make a public date for a decision and the Duke staff continues to work on him for a visit in October. BTW, Arizona is trying to tell him he can co exist with other prospects.
There are a lot of visits being tentatively set but not much is leaking in that it is very liquid in nature but Duke is obviously trying to get guys ready to visit during Countdown to Craziness. I will give you dates if they are released and we should know more as CTC comes around.
The word on ReidTravis is that he enjoyed his visit but his camp is really making sure of their pending decision per sources. Stanford is very much in this race and I'm sure Coach Dawkins is telling him he is their Tyus Jones. This is going to come down to what the kid wants in the way of basketball and education. If he wants to be the man, he will pick Stanford where that type of situation is available. I know what some are thinking, people could point to Dawkins having to win but the Stanford push always education first. Still, Duke offers a good opportunity for education as well and I like the Blue Devils chances here and they've told him how he would be used and such.
Duke is also still in the running for Myles Turner who is red-hot right now. His family seems to be trying to ground him a bit per rumors and Duke did pay him a recent visit and they seemingly feel they are a player for his services. If all goes according to plan, we'll hear from Turner soon.
The Blue Devils stopped in on Charles Matthews and Luke Kennard as well. Every team in the nation seems to be on Kennard but that is not stopping Coach K and company who feel they've made good early in roads. Coach K loves his game at the Nike Peach Jam and it appears he will remain at the very top of the Blue Devils wish list. Matthews has not been real serious yet nut that will change. Malik Newman is also getting attention and a visit and K seems to really like his exploits since playing for Team USA and I think they'll be in the thick of this race.
Another underclassmen Duke visited recently was Diamond Stone. Coach James, Coach K and Capel made the journey to see him around the same time as Turner. It was very much a getting to know you session and by all accounts there is major interest from both sides, meaning all went well.
There is excitement in the air with the season about to start and you can feel it from anyone related to Duke be it the staff or the players. I saw several of the players during the football game last week and all were in good spirits, especially Quinn Cook. We'll be adding to our update on the players which is in the archives soon and we'll be concentrating on hoops a lot more in the coming week.
If any member is reading this and is not on the message board, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and once I check the list, I will okay you for said board. A lot of the quick hit information goes to the board before our updates. [/private]