One on one with Tyus Jones

The Blue Devils waiting three years for Tyus Jones. The former five star prospect rewarding that loyalty with a sensational freshman season that resulted in Duke’s fifth championship. Now Jones is pursing his professional dream as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves. We spoke with him about that transition and much more.

So how does it feel to finally be a professional?

Tyus Jones: Oh it feels great, it’s an amazing feeling, really. This is what I have dreamed of starting a long time ago. It’s a good feeling.

What’s been the biggest surprise if any in transitioning to becoming a member of the Timberwolves?

I don’t think there’s been any surprises because I didn’t know what to really expect going into it. It’s been everything I could have imagined or felt possible.

Before the draft you got to hang out with Kevin Garnett who just signed another contract with the team—how do you feel knowing you are going to be teammates with him?

I feel great about that, it’s an honor. He’s someone I watched my whole life growing up and now it’s a real honor to say that I’m going to be a teammate of his. Really looking forward to it and I think I can learn a lot from him.

Who from the team has already taken you under their wing so to speak?

I would say Zach LaVine is probably with me the most these first few days.

What have you noticed about the practices so far—how different are they from what you guys did at Duke?

A little bit just because we’re working on putting things in so we can get ready for Summer League and then you get ready for the real season. There’s some similarities to what we did at Duke but it’s even more pro-like and you are just getting ready for the season.

Was there anything learned at Duke that has aided in your transition to becoming a professional athlete?

I would say the process of learning, the plays, the players, picking up how your teammates move so you can learn how to move a little bit quicker. You learn different techniques because as the point guard you are expected to be the leader, so I’ve learned that already and that’s helping me in my transition when I got here.

During your draft party when you saw your name get called and then the leaders of your organization came to your draft party…what was your reaction in that moment?

It’s honestly so surreal, you feel in awe because it’s a dream come true. I was so proud and thankful when that time came and my name was called, it was so special to be able to put a cherry on top knowing that I was going to be coming home and playing for my hometown team. Then for them to come over my draft party as an organization—it was really special. I have no better way to describe it.

Did you and your agent have a sense that Minnesota was a possible landing place for you?

We knew it was a possibility but we knew they would have to make a trade and you never know what could or couldn’t happen with that since it takes two teams to make a trade. We knew it was a possibility but we just didn’t know how. During draft day we were on the phone a good amount with Flip Saunders, so we thought there was a pretty good chance it would happen, but it just worked out for myself and for the Timberwolves, which is great.

Was you going pro after one year at Duke the plan all along?

I think it was the dream scenario. You don’t go there to focus on just going pro, it’s something you would like to achieve after going there, but that wasn’t in my mind at all. I just wanted to focus on getting better, helping my team out any way I could and being the best point guard that I could be for them. Those things just fell in line and I just focused on those and then at the end of the year, I told myself that I would look at what the best option would be and everything worked out for me and I did feel that it was best for me to follow my dream of playing in the NBA.

What were there specific experiences or information you learned either during the season or afterwords that led you to decide that going pro after the year was the best situation for you?

I just think it was the way things played out during the course of the year and with how the year ended, with all the information I was able to gather with my family and with Coach, we just felt it was the best decision for me and my team to go.

What was Coach K’s counsel to you after the season as you went through that evaluation process?

He gave me the pros and cons to both staying and leaving. He gave me his 100% support and love and he said that no matter what I decided to do he would support me in the exact same way. He was excited like I was for me that I even had the opportunity to make that decision, so he was really supportive and he helped me out a lot through this whole process. Without him it would have been more difficult.

Was it overall an easier decision for you to leave after a year—or was it harder than people may have expected or thought?

It was definitely a lot harder than we expected just because I love Coach K. I loved playing for him and with my teammates and I loved everything about Duke and being a student-athlete there with all the fans and the people on campus that I truly loved. That made it hard to leave but at the same time this is a dream I’ve had since I was a little kid and to be able to pursue that, it was something I had to go after.

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