Jones' complement of skills is easy enough to describe, but his instincts must be observed to be appreciated. Somehow, someway, he consistently finds room for an open shot, creates seams in defenses or spots a wide open teammate at the exact moment he breaks free of a defender. Jones' lightning-fast processor allows him to play a slower, more methodical mental game than others, making his actions appear faster than they actually are.
And as mentioned, his skill level alone places him as an elite. Jones is a fantastic perimeter shooter capable of knocking down multiple consecutive threes, and he's also a quick driver who handles extremely well and can score moving in either direction. His body control may be his most impressive athletic quality, as he can stop suddenly and enter directly into his shot.
His playmaking ability also is superlative. He's a tremendous passer who, thanks to his sure-handed dribbling, can advance the ball into a favorable position even against intense pressure to make the right play. And although he feels comfortable as a dominant scorer, he doesn't get caught up in his own statistical production and will defer as necessary.
Temperamentally, Jones is an assassin. He's an unflappable competitor who even as a very young player seemed unconcerned with the usual trivialities that influence teenaged athletes.
As far as deficits go, he isn't very big. Jones' height will be fine for college, but how about the NBA? There's also the athleticism issue. While far from a slouch, Jones doesn't boast the same explosive quickness and finishing ability as exhibited by Emmanuel Mudiay, Rashad Vaughn and others. To what extent will he be able to compensate with his other qualities?
Jones does a great job racking up steals on defense, but he sometimes struggles against quick penetrators. That's an area that's likely to become problematic at various points during his career, and he has to hope he can maximize his defense using his intelligence and, of course, that he gives better than he gets on the other end.
Dating back to the 2010 Peach Jam, when Jones competed for Howard Pulley's 16-under squad — for perspective, that was the year Anthony Davis and Michael Gilchrist proved to be the 17-under standouts — the slender Minnesota guard boasted obvious blue-chip ability.
That first summer, after playing varsity for Apple Valley high as an eighth grader, Jones demonstrated advanced skill, smarts and poise for one so young. He was two years young even for the 16-under tournament, but from the opening tip he was one of the most effective players on his team.
And he never took a backward step. He picked up early offers from Minnesota and Iowa, and by the time he reached his sophomore year Iowa State, Michigan State, Ohio State, Arizona, Baylor and Providence followed suit.
His junior season brought his second straight state player of the year award, and with blue-chip scorer Rashad Vaughn (who transferred to Findley Prep in Nevada) no longer a threat, he's highly likely to finish his prep career a three-time winner.
Now to the horserace. Jones continues to list Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Minnesota, Baylor, Michigan State and Ohio State, and he has plans to visit the Blue Devils, Jayhawks, Bears and Wildcats officially.
From Duke's perspective, Tyus Jones has been Coach K's top point guard target since Krzyzewski accepted the commitment of Quinn Cook in 2011. Coach K has turned down or simply not recruited a number interested (and talented) players over the past few seasons in favor of the Minnesota point guard. It's something Jones has noticed.
"I've observed he's been to a good amount of our games during the AAU season, high school season, he's come and visited a few times and also during the home visit with the staff up here," said Jones. "We had a good home visit with them, it's just small stuff like that that you see that they have made an effort to show that they have made you a priority."
Whenever a high major coach prioritizes a recruit as much as Krzyzewski has here, it's understandable that a relationship forms, which is the case with Jones.
"Coach K is arguably the best coach of all time. You just learn so much from him and playing under him. For myself, he's been able to do well with guards and he produces guards. That's what I like about him."
Jones has also visited Duke multiple times (along with the other two finalists, Baylor and Kansas).
The Package Deal:
For more than a year Jones and Jahlil Okafor have talked about teaming up in college. As the two recruitments have progressed, each player has continued to insist that they would attend the same school.
"It's still on," Jones said. "We are still planning on doing it. We are going to make it happen."
"I think it's pretty much we are looking at where we both fit in," he added. "Wherever we feel is the best for the both of us. Like I said, we are going to make it work."
When pressed on package deal, Jones said the percentage of them playing together was "99-percent," while Okafor told Scout.com that it was "99.9-percent."
Jones has also reached out to fellow five star prospect Justise Winslow about teaming up with he and Okafor at the next level. Winslow visited Duke with the pair on October 25th, something Jones noted he'd been working on:
"I think it was kinda me doing it, talking with Justise about visiting with us, then the Duke coaches mentioned it as well and it worked out for all of us."
Duke Projected Depth Chart
The Blue Devils will lose senior point guard Tyler Thornton to graduation this season, but will probably return the team's starter, Quinn Cook who will be a senior. Jones would, however, immediately press for starter's minutes as the team's lead guard and that much appears to have been communicated in the various recruiting meetings between coaches and player.
Blind Duke comparison with Jim Sumner: (Link)
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.
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.
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)
Jones and Okafor will announce their college choices at the same time on Friday afternoon (3:00 PM CST), likely on ESPN. Those plans have been in the works for quite a while according to the point guard.
"I talked with (ESPN's) Paul Biancardi this summer and he just offered the opportunity, so that's the way that came about," Jones explained to TDD.
As with any television event, there is a great amount of coordination that must take place. That coordination appears to be starting with their Twitter accounts, which announced the decision date and time in a templates format:
"I'm excited to announce my college decision on Friday Nov 15th, 3pm at Whitney Young high school," Okafor tweeted out Monday evening.
"I'm excited to announce my college decision on Friday Nov 15th, 3pm at Apple Valley High school," Jones said in his tweet.
ESPN will broadcast "Signing Day Special from Charlotte, NC" at 4:00 PM EST (3:00 CST) on ESPNU.