Behind The Scenes With Tre Jones

Tre Jones has seen his recruiting stock rise to the point of earning a Duke offer. Recently we had a chance to get a behind the scenes look at the Jones recruitment and how the legacy of the Jones family in Durham is playing into that process and others.

Having already gone through the USA Basketball and recruiting process with Tyus, what’s it like starting over with Tre?

Debbie Jones, mother of Tre Jones:  I definitely know a little bit more on what to expect since we’ve been through it already. We were out at USA tryouts last June with Tre and there’s a lot of similarities to what Tyus went through, just with some different kids. Tre went and competed and it was nice to see him compete out there and he did way better than I was thinking and he ended up making the team which was great. Then with all the people and knowing them, the people with USA Basketball are just wonderful people. It’s fun to see Tre going through his thing now.

What are the lessons learned or experiences gained with Tyus’s recruiting process that you are now applying as you guide Tre through his process?

With the recruiting thing and having done it and dealing with all that comes along with recruiting, we kinda know what to expect, we already know so many people which makes it easier since we know the process and we know the rules and things like that. Now that we’ve been through it before and it helps you learn what you really need to know. There’s a number of things that actually kind of are expected with Tre that we didn’t know to expect with Tyus. It’ll be a little bit different with Tre because he’s a different kid and while they play similar positions, it’s just kinda fun to see it happening for Tre versus Tyus is done now and we had such an enjoyable process with him. We’re just looking forward to going through it again because of how great it was to go through Tyus’s process and meet all the great people that we did. We’re looking forward to getting it going all over again.

With you saying Tre is different from Tyus, can you share some examples of that? Is he going to approach the recruiting process any differently from the way Tyus chose to?

With Tre, they are very similar on the court, Tre is probably a bit more out-going than Tyus but they are still very similar. The best thing for Tre is he was there for a lot of what Tyus went through with his recruiting process. He went on a lot of the recruiting visits, he got to meet the coaches and people involved in the whole process, so Tre knows what to expect since he’s seen the process already. Now he can enjoy more of the process as the coaches come around and he can start to make contact with the coaches since the coaches can’t call him directly. 

Was Tre more inclined to ask the coaches questions during Tyus’s recruiting process, or was he more apt to just sit back and listen and observe what they had to say?

He was more the type to sit back and listen than ask questions. He wanted to listen to the kinds of questions we were asking and what kind of information we were hoping to find out. He was just there for the whole thing and during the visits he got to see the colleges and meet the people and have conversations and things like that. He just sat back and listened to everything that we asked.

Tyus had his relationship with Jahlil that went way back, is Tre like that as well?

Yes he does have some good relationships already with several guys and that’s because of USA Basketball. He’s good friends with some of the kids from his class and also with some kids from the class ahead of him, the 2017 class. That’s kinda fun to develop those relationships. It’s not anything like the true connection with that one person like Tyus had with Jahlil, he’s gotten to know a number of the kids. It’s been a growth process for him so far with that.

Which kids from his class or the 2017 class has he already started developing a friendship with?

He’s good friends with Javonte Smart, he’s good friends with Wendell Carter also, those are the two that stand out for me. Any of the kids on the USA team that were with him when they went to Argentina. I think Javonte was his roommate, so he’s starting to develop that friendship there.

What led to the friendship with Wendell (Carter)?

I think just the USA Team and then with Wendell’s mom and I, we stayed at the same hotel and we’ve become friends, so we’ve talked through the process and I think that plays a part in the kids getting to know each other as well.

How much did you and Mrs. Carter get to spend time together while you guys were in Colorado recently for USA Camp?

Oh absolutely. We actually spent the weekend together and were at the same hotel actually. We talked a lot and threw some questions back and forth. She asked about Tyus and his whole process that he’s gone through, it’s really just kinda general information and discussion at this point. What a great lady though and great mother. We were both over in Argentina which is where we first really got to know each other well. I had met her during EYBL season at the Kentucky stop  and then she was up here when they played an EYBL session in Minnesota. 

Do you consider that friendship to be growing in similar ways to the relationship you built with Chuck Okafor and Robin Davis during Tyus’s recruiting process?

Yeah it’s kinda funny to think about that because it seems like it was awhile ago but it really wasn’t that long ago and then to see the progression that our kids are in right now—it’s just unbelievable. 

Did you ever imagine that Tyus and Justise and Jahil would all go pro together and would all go in the first round?

You know, you never know but those thoughts come into your head—but for it to happen and to happen so quickly, I would have never imagined that. I’m sure the boys talked a lot about it but to go out and actually do it, it’s really amazing.

I want to ask some more about Tyus in a little while if I may, but going back to Tre, he’s received several offers already, what’s that like for you seeing him get those early offers?

It’s just such a blessing and I’m so happy for him. He works so hard and has really developed his gameit’s really fun to see him getting some credit and doing it his way. 

At this point, which programs have put firm scholarship offers on the table for Tre?

Tre has 4 offers. He’s got University of Minnesota, Texas Tech, Baylor and Duke. 

How did those programs present the offers ?

Let’s see, Texas Tech was really early, I think they offered last year after coming up for an open gym. They communicated with his coach and they were interested in communicating with Tre, so he called down and they made him a scholarship offer. University of Minnesota, right after Tyus got drafted there was a tournament and we were on campus and they made the offer. Then Baylor, I think they offered like a few weeks before the Duke offer came. It’s been very cool, Tre’s been very excited. He works extremely hard and he’s developed his game—it’s wonderful to see.

Were you guys surprised by the Duke offer when it came?

You know it did catch us by surprise. They came up to open gym and then we called and they extended the offer. It was really unexpected—Tre had no idea it was coming, so that’s something that was really exciting.

Did the Duke staff give any indication on their reasons for wanting to offer Tre so early?

You know they just said that they love his game, they feel like he’s earned it and they are offering the scholarship to him not because of anything with Tyus, they just feel that it’s a spot he should consider and they are very interested in recruiting him. Coach K directly gave us the offer. 

How do they see him as a player at the collegiate level?

We haven’t gotten into those details or discussions yet.

So with the family connection with Duke already established through Tyus going there, how are you handling that in light that Tre’s recruitment is Tre’s recruitment?

You know I think we’re just handling it the same way we did with Tyus, just individually. Tre’s his own guy, his own player and it’s his deal. It’s just really separate even though we have that connection with them already. Really with all of these schools that are going to recruit Tre, chances are we’ve already dealt with most of them for Tyus, so, we’re not dealing with anything different in that regard. The good thing is that Tre is at that level, so any offer that’s given to him is deserved, it’s not being given to him because he’s Tyus’s brother.

How are you guys evaluating the situation for Tre at Duke now that they have offered him? Are you asking similar questions that you did with Tyus, or are you going about it differently?

I think its going to be a little bit of both because we know everything about Duke with Tyus having gone there, we know the situation, we know the people and we know how they run things there. So those answers we already have those answers, but Tre is different from Tyus, ,so we’ll have to have in-depth discussions similar to what we did with Tyus. We are taking an unofficial to Duke for Countdown to Craziness and that’s going to be a fun time.

Were you guys already planning on going to Duke for their Midnight Madness, or were you more going because the offer was extended?

That was because the offer was extended. We’re looking forward to getting back on campus because we haven’t seen everybody in awhile, really since the end of the year banquet. We’ve talked with Coach on the phone, but it’ll be fun to get back on campus and to see everybody again.

During the Spring and Summer this year, were you and Duke talking a lot about Tre?

Yeah it’s been hands off—we haven’t had any discussions with them over the summer or into the fall. With the rules being the way they are for guys of Tre’s age, you can’t really do that since they just can’t contact you—it has to be us contacting them. That’s another thing that’s great about going to be on campus is getting to talk with them face to face.

Jayson Tatum’s dad mentioned to us how great and helpful your input was during Jayson’s recruitment, what for you made you want to be so vocal about Tyus’s experience at Duke with so many other parents?

You know I was actually if I would share some information about the recruiting process and whatnot, so I jotted some things down to share my experience with any other parent who would want to learn from what we did and how we approached it. That was the main thing behind it because everybody’s situation is so different and everybody’s priorities are not always the same. A few things that are probably common amongst many with the recruiting process, so that’s what I talked about. It went really well and it seemed to be well-received by the parents which is great  because I probably wouldn’t have put it out there if I hadn’t been asked to. 

What kind of feedback did you get from the parents in that setting?

It was very good, I had a number of parents who thanked me for sharing and there were many who told me that I made them think about some things they maybe hadn’t thought about at that point. It was all positive.

Speaking of process, when Tyus was evaluating going pro after the season, what kind of role did you try to play with that?

We discussed it in detail and quite frequently. He didn’t have a ton of time to make the decision because of deadlines and things like that, so we just had to discuss everything in depth and make a decision on what was best for him at that time. I’m always going to be there for him and talking through things. It was very similar to the recruiting process where you just discuss everything with everything put out there, and we all feel like the best decision was made. 

How much did you guys incorporate the reality of where Tyus was being projected to be drafted and all the input you were receiving from the NBA coaches and front office staffs into your evaluation process?

You know you just kinda take everything and look at the whole picture and make the decision on what’s the best for him. It’s just the overall picture with everything and we just felt that based on everything we discussed, that was the best move for him.

Was there any guidance or input you received during that process that you can point to and say, “that was the most helpful thoughts or pieces of information for us?”

I think anybody we talked with. The coaches at Duke, we even met with other people at Duke and I just think all that information we got was really helpful, especially with information we maybe hadn’t thought about it. I just think it was really helpful overall and it helped him make the decision. It was a number of things that went into the entire process. 

When it came time for Tyus to make the decision, was it more a pros and cons type decision, or was it completely different from that?

You know I think it was pros and cons. When you consider what Tyus did by going to Duke, winning the National Title, winning the MVP-you kinda say to yourself that he’s at the highest point you can possibly be at the college level. So he has to weigh the pros and cons of coming back when you are at the highest or are there more pros to staying in college and developing and working towards your degree. There’s a whole bunch of things that went into that discussion, so I do think it was looking at the pros and the cons and I think at the end of the day, he made that decision that the time is now and he decided he was going to come out.

With the season unfolding the way it did, what for you were the most memorable memories for you as Tyus’s parent?

Just Duke itself is such a fabulous memory because of the experience there. He was able to gain so much from the people around him, the knowledge, stuff like that. The most memorable is winning the National Title though, without a doubt. Being on that stage, being in that environment is the most memorable moment by far. But I’ll tell you there are so many memories and great moments in that season. I could talk about it for days. There’s so many big games and big shots, unbelievable experiences. The people at Duke, that whole situation—it’s just a lifetime memory I’ll never forget. 

Was Tyus his usual self the day of the National Championship game, or did he get nervous at any point?

You know what, he was typical Tyus. It was truly unbelievable with him that no matter how big the stage, he never changed and he never got too high or too low or got rattled. He was really the same and if you were around him—you would have never known that he was getting ready for the National Championship game. The rest of us were probably more nervous than we were, he was just typical Tyus.

What do you remember from the parents section as they won the Title?

Well just from, we stayed downtown so we stayed at the same hotel and I’m always early, I’m the early person. So just walking to the arena and taking in all the people and getting to the arena and being there early and seeing how it filled up and how the excitement just builds with the cheering and the music and seeing them run out and getting announced and then the game, being in that environment—it’s so hard to truly put into words what your feelings are. But you are there and we’ve watched so many of the games on TV and you’ve watched all the stories and the build up and all that kind of stuff, but when you are there—you don’t get any of that. So I bet I have watched coverage of that 20 times with the coverage, the build up, the game because when you are there in that environment—you don’t see any of that on tv. When you are there it’s just surreal and you look around and you see all the people and there was just so much red, but it was just truly surreal. You look around and you ask yourself, “are we really here ? Are we really about to do this ?” It was truly amazing.

What’s the first thing that Tyus said to you after you guys were able to be together after they won the Title?

You know, we just hugged and cried and I remember us both saying We Did It ! I remember telling him how proud I was of him and how much I love him and it was just pure joy and excitement and elation, just everything. It was so chaotic and joyous, it was hard to have any type of real conversation until the early morning hours because really by the time we got out of the arena and walked back to the hotel, there was a big party down in the basement at the hotel, so by the time we got back to the hotel—it was about 3 or 4 in the morning when we could finally talk about it. I remember we kept asking did this really happen and this is amazing. 

The other interesting thing during the whole season with Tyus was seeing his relationship with Quinn (Cook). What was it like for you as his parent seeing those two bond the way they did?

That was truly, truly special. I know everybody at the beginning kinda pitted them against each other, but it was never like that for Tyus and Quinn. They really embraced each other and meshed from the day Tyus stepped on campus. Quinn was a true leader and he welcomed not only Tyus but he welcomed all the freshman in and you just would have never known that one was a senior and one was a freshman with the way they gelled on and off the court. It was really, really special and Coach K obviously had the most to do with that just by his relationship with Quinn and with Tyus and the way those two just embraced each other and their roles, that was something extremely special that I think a lot of kids can learn from. Again, the media and other people would ask a lot what it would look like when Tyus takes Quinn’s spot, this and that—but it wasn’t that type of situation truly. Unless people were truly in that situation and those conversations and who knew how the recruiting process went with that, they had no idea how special it was and I just think it was an amazing thing that Quinn stuck around Duke all summer and worked on his game and welcomed these kids in and just really made things work. I just think that’s a remarkable thing that he did and a huge reason why things turned out the way things did. A lot of kids would have had an attitude and wouldn’t let the process play out, which I think made it such an amazing thing that he did. They just gelled from the day Tyus stepped on campus.

In closing, Tyus followed his dream of going pro, what’s it like for you seeing him follow his dream of going to the NBA after winning the National Title?

It’s truly a blessing. In his first preseason game against Oklahoma City. He started in that game and the emotion that comes over you as a parent, it’s just tears of joy that were flowing and I’m just so proud of how he has conducted himself and how hard he worked. It’s amazing to see goals set, dreams come true and now the process starts over again for him and we reset those goals and reset those dreams. As a parent, it’s just so rewarding, it makes you so proud and so honored to know that the hard work and the dedication and the sacrifice that goes into that and that it paid off. I’m so proud of him.

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