One on one with Tyus Jones

For a while now there's been little doubt that Apple Valley (Minn.) High standout Tyus Jones is the top point guard prospect on the Blue Devil board. So far in the EYBL's first two sessions the 6-foot-1 five star guard has proven worthy of such accolades. On Friday he sat down with TDD to discuss his game, his recruitment, and much more.

TDD: For some guys it's motivating to play in front of the coaches Tyus and for others, they don't seem to be fazed by it, where do you fall on that spectrum?

Tyus Jones: You know, I really like it, you can't let it control or distract you from the playing the game the way you can play because then it affects your team and the outcome. If they are coming to watch you play it's because they want to be there, so you know they are there because they like you, so I just try to go out and play my game.

You're regarded as one of the top guys in your class and one of the best point guards in high school basketball, can you elaborate on what's that like for you?

It's very humbling, and shows you gotta keep working hard if you want to stay at that level. It's also very motivating because you want to stay at the top, you never want to settle.

Where did that mindset come from, Tyus?

I've always been a competitor ever since I was a little kid, I always put my best effort forward.

What got you started in basketball?

I was blessed to be born into a basketball family, both my parents, my brother, they all played basketball in college, I was always in the gym with the ball in my hands.

So who is better, your mom or your dad?

Um, hard to say, my dad started playing basketball late, and he's a big guy. Mom's a guard, so they are real different.

What have you learned from your mom since she's a fellow guard?

It's easy to talk with her about the game because she's always around it. We go back and forth about things on the court and she sees things from a fan's perspective since she's watching me play. She points out things, her perspective is just so different, she'll bring up something she saw on the court that maybe I saw differently, so talking with her helps improve my game, it's helpful having a parent like that.

How do they help you navigate the recruiting process, having been through it themselves?

That's the great thing for me. They are always supporting me, and I think they've raised me to be mature, and to not do anything that will be frowned upon. I'm not trying to rush into anything, take things slow and they are fully supporting me with that.

Did your family have experiences in college that they are bringing up to you as you need to be on the lookout for this in your recruitment?

Definitely my older brother has done that, he's the one I come to when it comes to my recruiting because he went to Furman, and he went through the process, he's really helpful to me.

What do you focus in on when listening to the coaches?

I really focus on looking at who they are as people. A lot of these coaches, it‘s just so easy to talk to them, and they are very genuine. A lot of them will talk about their school's academics, their style of play, the kind of players they have, they really go into it.

So do you find yourself wanting to hear more about academics and what they are offering, or are you more basketball focused in what you listen for?

I'd say it really depends on the school, and it depends on the coaches philosophy and how they see the game. That matters a lot to me, when it comes to making a decision, academics will be a big part of the decision and what kind of guys they are looking to bring in, it'll all be together.

Speaking of philosophy Tyus, do you see yourself as a ball in hand type PG, setting guys up, or do you see a different kind of role and offense you'd like to play in?

You know I'm looking to set things up, set the tempo, keep my guys involved, that's a good way to look at it.

Are there college or pro players you like to watch and mimic to add to your game?

Yeah I like watching Chris Paul, he controls the game from many aspects. I try to add things from all the great PG's because that's a good thing in my mind for my game. Like with Rajon Rondo, the way he gets his teammates involved and organized, or the way Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook, how explosive they are and how much pressure they put on the other team, I just add a lot of stuff to my game watching them.

How does it feel for you hearing the Chris Paul comparisons get put out there about you, as I'm sure you've seen that comparison made?

it's just extremely humbling because of his ability to play this game, I'm so far from where he is.

I know you mentioned previously you are getting to used to having coaches watch you at events, what's it like having them show up just to watch you practice?

It's great, it's important that you not get cocky about it or big-headed, just stay genuine to who I am as a person, I just try to take it and go with it while staying humble about it.

How do you handle the public attention that comes from being such a well known player already?

I do shy away from it to be honest. I try to not get too involved in it because you know, there's some guys who get really involved with it, who get into themselves and people look at that as a negative, they look at those guys as being real cocky and I don't want to be known for being something other than who I am as a person.

Let's talk about Team USA. What are the things you've loved about being a part of that?

I think the first thing is we had a great group of guys who had a good chemistry and who all came to work every single day. The coaches were all great, they pushed us to be great and to come together. The experience of playing for your country is such an awesome thing, I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

Keeping with Team USA, what made you want to put it out there that you'd really like to play with Jahlil Okafor considering you seem to be more private regarding your recruitment?

I think it's just the fact he's such a dominant big man and we've been playing against each other since the third grade, so we're real close. It'd be real good if we went to college together and we've already got a really good point guard to big man connection going on and with a lot of the same schools recruiting us, we've got the opportunity to look into playing together and that's something we're taking a look at doing.

In talking with players, there's lots of players who say they'd love to play with other guys in college, but they don't really mean it when it gets down to decision time. Is it a different thought process with guys like you and Jahlil and Theo Pinson?

Yeah, I'd say it's real serious. I mean, at Team USA, me, Theo, Jahlil we've talked seriously about going to college together and winning a championship together. It'll be interesting to see how things go in our recruitments and what happens as we all get older.

One of the schools recruiting all three of you is Duke. Can you shed some light on what it's like being recruited by Coach K as a main priority of his?

It's unbelievable for sure. Coach K is the most legendary coach of all time in college basketball. To be able to have a relationship with him after growing up and not thinking you'd ever have a chance to get to even meet him, it's a great experience to get to know him and his program, it's great being recruited by him.

Does it get intimidating at all being recruited by Coach K since he is so widely regarded as you indicated, or do you find yourself more comfortable with him?

I'm really comfortable with it and like I said before, coaches are recruiting you for a reason, so I stay true to who I am and just do the things you do well because that's why he's recruiting me, he likes the way I play and I enjoy being recruited by him.

How much does he communicate with you about Team USA and his experience coaching them?

We've talked several times about it, he's coached the top of the line guys there are, I've really learned a lot when hearing him talk about that experience.

Is it beneficial for you to hear him talk about coaching the NBA players or is it not a big deal?

He lets me know about their work ethic and what they do for the team and just little knacks about how they play or routines they have, it's a real positive.

How are you moving forward with the summer?

I'm visiting Baylor unofficially here in a little while, but other than that, I don't have anything lined up. The coaches know I'm trying to take my time, so it'll be interesting to see how things progress on their end in how they are recruiting me, but I don't really have any set plans yet.

What's going to be the major factors that are going to decide on when it comes to which visits you'll take?

I will definitely look to see what kind of players they are looking to bring in, and the type of success they are having. And, of course, academics. We're going to look deep into that, see what kind of programs they have, that's all going to factor in.


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