Tyus Jones had as good a year as you could possibly have. Here are some highlights spanning his final year in high school to his freshman year at Duke:
March, 2014: After watching Duke lose to Mercer in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament, the high school senior famously texted Coach K, “This won’t happen next year.”
November, 2014: 1st game against a ranked team in Michigan State – 17 points, four assists, zero turnovers.
December, 2014: 1st road game against a ranked team in Wisconsin – 22 points, four assists, one turnover.
February 2015: Completely takes over late against UNC, helps Duke storm back from down seven with 1:27 left to win in overtime on a career-high 24 points, seven assists, six rebounds, one turnover.
April 2015: Completely takes over in the 2nd half of the National Championship game, scores 23 points and just one turnover to beat Wisconsin, 68-63. Is named Final 4 MOP.
Wednesday morning, Tyus Jones announced he’s going to the NBA.
On some level, this is disappointing for college basketball fans. Jones was a clutch performer, a take-over guy who was a great leader on the floor and a joy to watch. Only 6-feet tall, he played much bigger, attacking the basket and drawing fouls and basically, he was unstoppable when it mattered.
But who can fault Jones for leaving? His best two teammates left, and his backcourt mate Quinn Cook graduates. What’s the point of sticking around and getting picked apart by NBA scouts while playing with Grayson Allen and a few incoming freshman? He had to go, where he’ll probably be selected in the 1st round (I would draft him, for sure), but maybe the 2nd, and who knows, maybe he’ll even spend time in the D-League next year.
Jones could have been one of those all-time college basketball greats, had he stayed – one of those stars who goes to multiple Final Fours and by his junior year people are joking about how he still has eligibility left.
As for Duke, losing four starters from a Championship team means one thing: Coach K will have to hit the recruiting trail hard over the next two weeks.
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