One on one with Tyus Jones

After committing to Duke, Tyus Jones has seen his life simplify greatly. The five star prospect is able to focus on when and not where he'll play his college ball. TDD sat down with Jones to talk about how he'll fit in at Duke next year, what issues were the last to be settled, his evolving relationship with the Duke program, how long he plans to be in Durham, and much more.

Let's start with the ESPN game against Jahlil and Whitney Young, has Jahlil been talking a big game since then?

Tyus Jones: We actually haven't talked about it that much since then, so no he hasn't, haha. It was a good game, unfortunately his team came away with the win, but at this point it's about what's going to be happening down the road.

What were the emotions like when facing off against an opponent, friend, and future teammate?

Yeah, it definitely was exciting and fun to be able to play against him on ESPN for myself, that was a big-time thing for me and my high school because that was the first time I had played with my high school team on ESPN. I was very excited and happy to be a part of that. It was a great opportunity for us.

There was a picture that came out after the game with you and Jahlil and your families' and Coach K and Coach Capel after that game, it seemed like there was definitely a family atmosphere going on, correct?

Yeah, that just made it that much more great having Coach K and Coach Capel there, it was real fun to see them mainly because afterwords they could tell us what we could do better and critique our games because they have a different perspective on our games and on us than anybody else does, I was glad they were there.

Can you share a little bit more about that "different perspective" that they have on your games?

What I mean by that is that Coach K has a phenomenal basketball mind, he sees the game differently than anybody else does, it's kinda hard to explain, it's a lot of small stuff that he tells me regularly that usually he looks at while watching basketball, or watching a recruit. It just goes to show how he impacts the game of basketball and just how great a coach he really is.

That sounds like it's a regular part of your interaction…

Oh yeah definitely, that's one of the things that stood out to me, both with himself and also with Coach Capel who first started recruiting me, is how they look at me and give me tips and critique me and give me tips that are more than what the standard stuff you hear, they started doing that right when they started recruiting me and I really liked that.

Most people would assume that in a recruiting relationship it's all about the coaches trying to "sell" you on their program, but your description of your relationship with Coach K and Coach Capel seems to paint a different picture, was it a different approach with them during your recruitment?

It was somewhat different, obviously I have that relationship with them as well where they were telling me about the program, but we had a much better relationship because they talked with me how about they could help me become an even better player and person, it was more than just the game of basketball and X's and O's. I think it just shows how good a relationship I had with them.

From a technical perspective with what Coach K and Coach Capel shared with you basketball wise? What's an example of something they shared that you are putting into practice on the court during your season?

Making sure I'm conditioned so that if we have a big lead, I gotta make sure I'm still pushing the ball, getting it into transition, because when you go to the next level, you have to be in so much better shape than what you are now. That's a small example, another one would be talking more, their point guards always have to talk a lot and even if you feel like you are talking a good amount, you can always talk even more and that's something they expect from myself as a point guard.

They've also talked about in transition, moving without the ball, I oftentimes like to push the ball ahead, but once I do that they've been talking with me about getting back up the floor and moving  into position so I can get the ball back and make a play.

It sounds like they are getting you ready for being a Duke point guard, how much have they discussed with you about both playing alongside Quinn Cook and competing with him?

A little bit, but playing with him, it's not a competition, we're definitely on the same team. They've talked with me about playing with him not a whole lot but it's come up a little bit. I'm excited to be playing with him and to get down there and have the opportunity to play with him.

Did those discussions arise based on questions that you had of the coaches, or was that something that they initiated in discussions with you during your recruitment?

They kinda initiated because it's an obvious topic when they were talking about bringing me in, there's going to be a senior point guard there and it's an obvious topic, you know ? We had multiple talks about it between myself and the coaches and I'm definitely excited to be playing with him and I'm already pretty close with Quinn, I'm just ready to get on campus and help the team out.

There's a personal and player side of it with playing alongside Quinn, he's going to be a teammate and a fellow point guard, what do you think it looks like playing with him and being a fellow teammate?

I think it will play out just fine, just because we're both team guys and whatever Coach K asks us to do, that's what we're going to do because our main focus in on winning. I think we're going to be able to play together just fine, and me and Quinn have talked about it, our games are not the exact same so that being said it'll make it easier on the both of us because we each bring something different to the table.

From your perspective, if either Jabari or Rodney stay next season, playing style wise, what do you think it means for next year's team with you and the rest of the class coming in?

That'd be a big bonus if either one of them were to stay, obviously they are both leaders right now, so if either came back they'd still be leaders and they each would be another weapon. It'd be another piece of the puzzle with great pieces coming in and great pieces already being there, it'd be exciting if either of them did come back, I don't think anybody would be against either of them coming back.

Are you and Jahlil pitching either Jabari or Rodney to stay?

Oh no, just because it's not our job or business to do that. When you decide to go to the next level, that's a personal decision each has to make, so we kinda stay out of that.

The expectations are high for next year's Duke team with you guys coming in with both fans and the media, how do you guys feel about those expectations?

I'm excited about it, it's exciting, it gets me eager to get down to campus and start playing. We knew when we started putting this class together that expectations would be there not just on the court, but also with the fact that we're going to Duke as students, we knew we'd have expectations so that's fine. We know how to box that stuff out and focus on what we need to as players, which is getting better and helping the team win, it's just really exciting to think about.

Did the coaches recruit you and Jahlil with the expectation that you both are likely one and go pro players?

It obviously came up, but that was not the main focus for myself or for Jahlil, we just focused on the here and now, on our freshman year and about making an impact. The next level will come, but we have to take care of things first at the college level.

Now that all four of you are signed, how much are you talking with your other new teammates, Grayson and Justise?

Definitely more. I'm talking with Grayson more and with Justise, probably a couple times each week. We're all excited to get down there and we're all excited about this class that was put together.

What was your reaction to all the publicity that came from your commitments?

It was crazy, didn't quite expect it to be quite like that. I just enjoyed it all and it was a great moment for myself and my family  and I know it was a great moment for Jahlil and his family as well when we committed on ESPN. We've been talking about it for a couple of years, so to finally get that done, it was that feeling of we did it and it was a relieving feeling. How much media we got was kinda crazy, but it was a lot of fun for sure.

How are you and Jahlil feeling about possibly being the "faces" of the Duke program next year the way guys like Jabari and others have been in the past?

We're excited, I think we're both ready for it and to go in and make a great impact and to help the team out. If we didn't feel like we weren't ready to handle that, I don't think we would have decided to go there, I think it will be fun.

  Part of what Duke does in showing who their players are is through the DukeBluePlanet website and the work of David Bradley with it, is that something you've followed?

It is, it definitely is. I'm noticing it even more and more now that we're all committed, it's really cool that we have that. I don't have any particular favorites on it, all of it is really cool.

Are you watching a lot of the team this year?

Yeah, most definitely, as many as possible. We've been able to see most of them, and we're watching them start to finish on the TV. I'm happy with how the season started, they've been playing well and they have racked up a lot of points. Guys are playing really well, especially Jabari, he's playing extremely well.

You are likely to be named to the McDonald's and Jordan Games after the season is over, what would that mean to you to participate in both?

It would mean a lot to me just because, those are two games that you don't really think of being a part of growing up, you normally just watch it on TV, so being able to if I'm selected to play in those games, it would be an incredible honor.

With your recruitment being over but your brother's just starting, how do you think you are going to advise him as his process plays out?

Actually very similar to mine, I had a great recruiting process, we all really enjoyed it, so I think he's going to handle it similar to how I handled mine. I can't wait to see how it all plays out.

Moving towards wrapping up, I was hoping to see if you could take me to the time where you and Jahlil actually made the decision for Duke, what can share about that moment and how it unfolded?

We really were just talking about all the positives and negatives of all the schools, and just kinda putting it all out there on the table so that we could ultimately make the best decision for us, we were talking about the campus layout, the educational part, different positives and negatives to the teams, how we would fit into the teams, the coaches and the staff, how we'd be coached, the styles of play, we talked about everything. At the end we decided based on what was most important to us each and we definitely feel we made the right decision.

  So who said first that I want to go to Duke and how did the other respond?

It was kinda a mutual. We were deciding what was most important to us and the answer to every question was Duke.

Was there anything that really sealed it for you and Jahlil that Duke was the place you wanted to go to?

I think the general feeling of comfort of the campus and with the staff, that's where you are going to be 24/7, that's your family when you are away from home, that was big to the both of us because we're both big on family.

Whose idea was it to do that kinda prank call to Coach K the night before?

Haha yeah, that was actually spur of the moment this for us. Jahlil had said that Coach K was going to call later that night and I said, let's call him now and let him know and Jahlil was like, "alright, let's do this." Then Jahlil called Coach K and then connected me on three-way and we let him know, so it was kinda cool how it all went down between the three of us.

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