One on one with Tyus Jones

Tyus Jones

He's the top point guard on the board for the Blue Devils in all of high school basketball, and he's ranked as the top guard in the class of 2014. So what's the latest with Tyus Jones? TDD sat down with the Minnesota native for an extended interview.

TDD: There was some big news in the recruiting world recently with Jabari Parker's announcement. What were your thoughts on that situation?

Tyus Jones: Really, I think it's a great decision for him. I knew he had a really good trip when he went down there, and I'm very happy for him.

Before we hit on recruiting, can you share your perspective on playing in the NBA while being considered a somewhat smaller guard?

That's something I'm used to by now, having to play against bigger guys. At the same time, there are things those bigger players can't do that I can. It's really about how you look at it, and I look at it as an advantage for me. For instance, I use my vision and passing to open up things for my teammates on the court, which makes our team better because guys are getting open shots.

Are there any players you study and try to emulate?

I like watching Chris Paul a lot. He's such a good teammate and I like watching how he gets his teammates involved. I also like watching Ricky Rubio, and how he plays the game. He's also a great passer. When I'm watching them, I try to see how they affect the game, and how they control things for their teams on the court. How do they blend into their team concepts?

Is it a source of pride to hear yourself considered as one of the best point guards in the country?

It's a good feeling, but at the same time, you can't be satisfied and let it go to your head because that's when you stop working hard and stop trying to get better.

Some players go to the collegiate level with a set expectation for how long they want to play in college before going pro. What are your expectations in that regard?

I don't really have one. I'm really just trying to go into college just thinking about college for that year, whether it be year one, two, three or four. Whatever it takes for me for me to be fine with it, I'm just planning on going in with the mindset of improving as a person and a player and having a really good college career.

If and when it comes time to decide on turning pro early, what will go into that decision?

For anyone I think it comes down to success. After that it's just playing the game well, and improving as a player. You need to make sure you are getting better overall, and if you are doing those things, that stands out and people and ultimately yourself will know that you a ready.

It's pretty clear that most colleges will change their offensive systems to suit your offensive capabilities--how big a deal is that assurance relative to other factors you are thinking about as you evaluate your fit at schools?

I don't really think that schools are going to have to change to fit my style. I think I'll be going to a school that won't have to change to fit me. That's kinda one of the things you look into when deciding on a school is whether they already play your style of play and their philosophies already kinda fit you. I don't think a coach is going to have to change their style, it'll just be a school that I fit in already.

Do you still have coaches that are telling you they will change their systems if you join them?

There are definitely schools that talk about their style of play and systems and what it would be if I went there, but for the most part with my final eight schools you have somewhat similar types of offense. They just mostly play basketball, get up and down the floor which is what I'm looking for. I don't think any of the eight schools I'm choosing from will have to change much, if any if I were to go there.

From a point guard perspective, how do you evaluate a school who says they want to run up and down all the time versus a school who indicates they want to run when they can while also running set offense?

There's definitely differences in the terms and styles. Ultimately, you look at do they run a lot of sets, do they run more motion, do they run more half court sets, do they get out and run a lot, you look at it all.

How do you evaluate your fit as a point guard in a program where they are widely regarded as a "big man" school who builds their offense around their post players?

It's something you look at and you gotta look at who they have and the recruits they have coming in as well. You also want to have as a point guard, I look for a big man to be there and a big man coming in with me in my class.

It's been discussed a lot that you and Jahlil Okafor are going to be playing together in college. I'm curious, what else do you guys evaluate reference the roster and playing style as you evaluate your decision?

You look at the other players there. You have to fit in with them on the court and off the court because you will be with them every single day. You also look at the coaching styles, because they do coach you very differently. It's also important you look at academics, my mom and I talk about that a lot, you also look at other smaller stuff, like the campus, the dorm situation, what's that like, there's a lot that goes into this.

How big a deal is the dorm situation to you?

I don't think it's a huge situation, but it's something you look into. I don't think it's a huge deal that would cause me to not go somewhere, but it is something you check into and think about a bit.

From the looks of it, Kentucky's player dorms are the best of the best as they have shown on ESPN and otherwise, is that something you've seen first hand?

Well, I haven't been down there, but I've got a visit planned there in a couple of weeks. It'll be interesting to see that and the campus for myself.

It's been reported that Coach Calipari has been getting more heavily involved recently in your recruitment lately.

He's been visiting me a few times so far this winter, so I guess you can say he is turning up the interest from a recruiting standpoint. That's nice to see with them…just the intensity of their recruiting process turning up.

Did he indicate what's making him get more heavily involved in your recruitment?

No, not really. They really just saw me the first time in person this spring, and you can't really be mad or anything at a coach who waited longer than maybe another coach to get involved. It's just when they check you out and go from there.

So, where does Kentucky stand with you now?

They are pretty equal. I've got a good relationship with them now. It'd be different if they were coming in later than other schools and I didn't have a relationship with them already, but I think, we've got a good relationship. You can't say they came in late because they really didn't see me until my sophomore year and started getting involved then.

Karl Towns recently re-classified to your class and committed to Kentucky, have you talked with him since his announcement?

I haven't talked with him since his commitment, but I know that when I was on my visit to Duke, he was there. Still, I haven't talked with him since he committed to Kentucky.

How do you think he fits alongside Jahlil if all of you decide to play at Kentucky?

I think he's a good fit because he's different, and the caliber of players that those two are, they will find a way to play alongside each other because of their IQ levels, they will find a way to make it work if we go there.

What are you looking to learn about Kentucky when you go on your visit in January?

Just want to see everything. The campus, the facilities, spend some time with the coaches, meet some of the players, check out how they do things, see what the fans are like and just go to observe, that's what i've been doing on all my unofficials.

You see lots of media reports about coaches coming to see you play or practice. How big a deal is it for coaches to make a ton of effort to come see you in person?

I think it just shows their interest level. It just shows that they want you to see them there, it's somewhat of a big deal.

Talk with me about who you feel you are having really good conversations with?

I have a lot of conversations, and a lot of them are through text messages these days. I mostly talk with assistants more than head coaches. I have really great conversations with Coach Capel from Duke, Coach Boals from Ohio State, and there's always my cousin, who is an assistant coach at Baylor, but I think those are mainly the guys I have really good conversations with through text. I also have really good conversations on the phone with most of the coaches.

What makes the conversations with Coach Capel so good?

It's mainly just the relationship. We've known each other for a good while now, as a former Duke player, he knows what it's like to go there and he shares his experiences with me. It's a lot of stuff that you may not know...

Such as?

Mainly just how it is to be a Duke player, and what Coach K is like. What he asks of you as a player, and then just small stuff, but stuff that's good for you to hear.

It would appear as though Duke has made you a top priority in the class at the point guard position, correct?

Yes, and I think it makes you feel that they are extremely serious about you and that you know how important you are to the program and to the staff. Overall it's really good, and it just shows how serious they are about trying to get you to come play for them.

How would you describe your relationship with Coach K?

I have a good relationship with him. He's been through everything there is to go through in basketball in college, and he's got gold medals. He knows everything there is to know about basketball because he's been through it all. I've had great conversations with him about the game of basketball, he knows so much about it.

Is basketball what you guys primarily talk about, or are there other things?

Mainly we talk basketball. It's because he's got such an extremely basketball IQ, and I think that helps my game a lot because I think I have a high basketball IQ as well. We like to talk about the mental aspect of the game a lot.

How much does he talk about his expectations for you, especially as a point guard?

He does let me know that he has high expectations from his point guards, and I could tell that when I was on my visit and seeing them practice. I think it's good that a head coach have high expectations for his point guard, because you are the leader on the floor, you are an extension of the coach on the floor, so you have to be on point, looking sharp on the court and making sure everybody is doing what they need to do on the court.

Speaking of the visit to Durham, can you recap that for us?

It was a really fun visit for sure, and it was even more fun having Jahlil and Theo there. We enjoyed ourselves, and the fans are great there. They welcomed us, their Countdown to Craziness was a lot of fun and it was just really great to experience that and the campus. It was overall a really good visit.

Did you take anything away from it that you are thinking about reference your decision, or was it just a fun weekend for you guys?

I think it was just a fun weekend, but you take something away from every visit because your purpose is to experience the university and the coaching staff and the team. I and my family took away some really good things from the visit.

When thinking about the recruiting process, are you looking to have a high profile process, or one that's a bit more low key?

I don't have a preference, really. I'm kinda laid back with the whole process, I'm just kinda taking it slowly. I'm not out there in public a lot with it, just really taking it slow. I'm not even sure yet how I want to announce, I'm just trying to get to a point where I'm ready to make a decision, once I'm able to do that, that's when I'll focus on how I'll make the announcement.

You've mentioned evaluating your "fit" in a program, what's going into your determination if you are a good "fit" for a program or not?

How they use their point guards, what their point guard does for the team, somewhere where I can go in and be successful and help the team and have a good career as a person and a player.

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