You Remind Me Of...: Tyus Jones

It's always helpful for fans to have a point of reference when learning about new players that will be in Durham on a year to year basis. Often, it's helpful to compare a new recruit to a former Blue Devil. We've done just that with the help of the national recruiting team and Duke historian/author Jim Sumner.

When looking for the best formula for comparison, we decided on a three-step process:

First, we asked the national recruiting team of Evan Daniels, Brian Snow, and Josh Gershon to provide a scouting report of each of the incoming freshmen as well as some of the top Duke targets in the class of 2014.

Next, we compiled the data and then removed the names associated with each player card.

Finally, those blank player cards were presented to Mr. Sumner. We asked Jim to name the first former Blue Devil that came to mind based on the scouting report.

Here's the result…

Tyus Jones
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 170 pounds Scouting Report:

  • Ability to create for others
  • Terrific floor vision
  • Shoots well out to 22 feet
  • Very high basketball IQ
  • Changes speeds very well
  • Average athletlically

Quick Description: "Jones is an elite PG. He's a great passer, has a high IQ and has really developed his perimeter. He changes speed well and has a great pace to his game." - Brian Snow

"The closest thing there is to Chris Paul in a while at the high school level. As smart a basketball player as there is, he makes everyone around him look a lot better. Add in that he can score 30 whenever he wants, and there aren't many better at what he does." - Evan Daniels

For college, however, he's a top-shelf prospect for however long he resides on a campus. His scoring, playmaking, confidence and ability to tailor a given contest to his own strengths nearly ensure that he'll enjoy massive success. - Rob Harrington

Sumner Says…: BOBBY HURLEY (1990-1993)

Hurley, arguably the best point guard in the program's history, was handed the keys to the team from the first day he arrived on campus. During the 1990 season the skinny freshman from Jersey City started 38 games, and played an averaged of 33 minutes per night, averaging 8.8 points and 7.6 assists per game. Of course, the most memorable (or forgettable, depending on your allegance) game of that year would be the 103-73 loss to UNLV in the national final - a game where Hurley battled severe illness and was ineffective (32 minutes, 2 points, 3 assists, and five turnovers).

The next two seasons would erase the pain of that long night in Denver as Hurley orchestrated the first college basketball dynasty since the days of John Wooden. The 6-foot-2 point guard would lead Duke to back to back national titles while averaging 12.3 points and 7.6 assists.

As his game continued to evolve, Hurley not only continued to dish out assists off the dribble drive, but also became a much more reliable shooter. As a freshman he shot just 35 percent from the floor and 36 percent from the perimeter. Over the next two years he upped those averages to a combined 43 percent from the field and 41 percent from three point range.

After shrinking against the mighty Rebels in 1990, Hurley exercised his demons in 1991 by playing all 40 minutes, scoring 12 points and handing out seven assists. He also knocked down a long three pointer to tie the game in the final minutes, a shot head coach Mike Krzyzewski has called "the biggest shot I've seen a Duke basketball player make."

If the game against UNLV was the most cathartic, the following year's performance against Indiana in the national semifinal was the most clutch. With Christian Laettner and Grant Hill being somewhat neutralized by a game Indiana team, Hurley was unstoppable. He knocked down six of his nine three point attempts on the way to a 26 point night that helped Duke move into the national final. Oddly enough, the four assists handed out that night were a season low.

As a senior Hurley led a Duke team that had lost Laettner, and so the now senior had to up his scoring. He responded by posting the greatest season by a Duke point guard. Hurley averaged 17.0 points and 8.2 assists per game while shooting 42 percent from the field, 80 percent from the foul line, and 42 percent from the perimeter. In his final game (a loss to Jason Kidd and California), Hurley recorded a career high 32 points to go along with nine assists.

While his accomplishments are great (he's the all-time NCAA leader in career assists), none of it would have been possible if not for the trust of his head coach. Hurley, himself, has acknowledged that he was given a tremendous opportunity as a freshman.

"Coach allowed me to be myself, to learn through mistakes sometimes early in my career because he had the vision of what I could do and maybe what I could bring to the table," Hurley said. "He trusted me, and he was secure enough to allow our team to be good without micromanaging every possession."

Which brings us to the recruitment and projected potential of Tyus Jones, the 6-foot-1 lead guard out of Minnesota who has long been identified as "Coach K's guy" in the class of 2014. Duke has not recruited a single point guard over the last two seasons, and has made it known directly through Jones and by action that Coach K wants to coach Tyus Jones.

"It's a good feeling just because it's always good to know you are a priority," Jones told TDD. "Coach K has definitely made me a priority throughout the whole recruiting process, so it's a good feeling just to know that they really want you bad and that you are a priority to them."

Much like Hurley before him, Jones would likely come into Durham and be given the opportunity to earn a high number of early minutes with the ball in his hands. And, much like Hurley, the Duke roster in 2014-2015 could be conducive to a deep run into the NCAA Tournament.

For both players it starts with an exception floor vision and IQ with the basketball. Both players excelled at getting into the lane, drawing a defender's commitment, and then finding an open teammate. Both players are considered reliable jump shooters, with range out to the NBA line. Defensively both are capable of grabbing steals, but will struggle against bigger and more physical guards on the defensive end.

Perhaps one of the major differences between Jones and Hurley comes down to temperament. Hurley wore his emotions on his sleeve, especially in the early portions of his career (much to the amusement of Christian Laettner. And more. One more). Jones, meanwhile, is described as "an assassin" on the court, a player who is "an unflappable competitor who even as a very young player seemed unconcerned with the usual trivialities that influence teenaged athletes." (Harrington Eval)

Both approaches have earned success with Hurley considered a top 10 recruit in the class of 1989 (along with players such as Kenny Anderson and Shaquille O'Neal), and Jones ranked as a top five player in 2014 (with his pick of various All-Star games assured). Hurley, of course, would go on to lead his college team to 123 victories and a pair of national titles in four seasons before being selected seventh overall in the 1993 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings.

His NBA career was cut tragically short when he was involved in a horrific car accident. Hurley played in just 19 games before the crash, averaging 7.1 points and 6.1 assists in 26.3 minutes. He would return the court the following season, but his career path had been drastically altered, and he would play just four more seasons before retiring after the 1998 season. Hurley was recently named head coach at the University of Buffalo.

Tragedy aside, Hurley and Jones seem to have enjoyed a similar career path to this point, with the future holding similar possibilities. Before that comparison can continue to evolve, however, Jones will have to make a college decision. Something that won't happen before November.

Recently Jones announced he will take four official visits - to Baylor, Kansas, Kentucky, and Duke. The tour of official visits will culminate with a late October trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium (Oct 25-27). Soon after wrapping up his visits, the Minnesota point guard is expected to announce his choice for the early signing period.

About Jim Sumner: Jim Sumner specializes in southern sports. He is a columnist for Go Duke: The Magazine, Inside Carolina magazine, Duke Basketball Report and College Sumner is a regular contributor to The Associated Press, the Durham Herald-Sun, the Wolfpacker, Basketball Times, ACC Sports Journal,,, Tar Heel Tipoff and Blue Devil Tipoff. He has written for The ACC Handbook, Baseball America, Duke Magazine, Basketball America, Our State, Metro Magazine, and numerous other magazines, journals, and websites.

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