Tyus Jones, a 6-foot-2 rising junior point guard from Apple Valley, continues to make a name for himself nationally. He led all player at the recent Peach Jam in scoring (25.8 points per game), field goals (57), three-point percentage (10 of 15 - 66.7%) and free throw percentage (31 of 35 - 88.6%) and was second in assits 96.5 per game) as he led Howard Pulley to a surprising spot in the quarterfinals. GopherHole.com caught up with Jones this weekend at the Pacesetter Sweet 16 to learn the latest on his recruitment and his summer basketball.
Jones helped lead the United State to the FIBA 17-and-under to the gold medal as the American team finished 8-0 in Lithuania this summer. Jones led the team with 5.4 assists per game to go with his 8.5 scoring average
GH: Your Howard Pulley team played well in the Peach Jam and in Kansas City last month. How pleased were you with the way things ended up?
Tyus Jones: At the Peach Jam, I was very pleased with my team. We battled and played extremely well down there. People definitely did not expect us to get out of the pool and we almost won our first game in the quarterfinals. So I was very proud of the guys and how we played. In Kansas City, the same thing. We lost in the semifinals and still battled and played well down there, so I was very pleased with the way the summer ended. .
GH: Do you think that team overlooked you because you weren’t very big and were guard-dominated?
Tyus Jones: I think so. We lacked height, so I definitely think that they overlooked us.
GH: I know that Kentucky recently offered you. Any other new offers?
Tyus Jones: The latest one has been North Carolina and before that it was Kentucky and Indiana.
GH: Have you thought about maybe going some place before school starts to check out some campuses?
Tyus Jones: Yes, since there is going to be some time in August, I’ll try to take, maybe two visits, but I don’t even know where to yet. I am going to have to sit down with my family and think about it.
GH: Who are you hearing from the most of all those schools?
Tyus Jones: I am hearing from a lot of coaches, very equally. All the schools that have offered me, I think that I heard from equally at this point right now.
GH: What about the hometown team? What are you hearing from the Gophers?
Tyus Jones: I talk to Coach Smith and Coach Vince Taylor probably the most of that coaching staff. I am hearing from them as well.
GH: Do you ever get local people who want you to stay here? Do you ever hear from them?
Tyus Jones: Oh, definitely. All the time. I hear it all the time. Minnesota fans want me to stay here and go the “U” and play for my hometown team, so it will be interesting to see.
GH: Is that something that would appeal to you? Obviously your family and friends would be able to see you a lot more?
Tyus Jones: Definitely. There is a lot upside to staying at home, but we’ll just have to see where it goes.
GH: What was the experience like playing in Lithuania?
Tyus Jones: It was a great experience. It is nice to play for your country. We played well over there and had a good time.
GH: Did you get a chance to do much besides basketball? Did you get a chance to see much of the countryside?
Tyus Jones: We took a little tour and saw a little bit of the country, but not a whole lot. We went and saw the capital and a few other places over there.
GH: You had your family with you. Did that make it even more special having them with you?
Tyus Jones: Most definitely. My family supports me always. No matter where it is. It definitely helps.
GH: You won the gold medal for the second straight summer. Does this one mean more?
Tyus Jones: I think this one meant a little more because it was a world tournament. The first one was an Americas tournament, but this one was a World Tournament. Better competition and stuff like that. . They both mean a lot.
GH: Did a lot of your teammates ask about your recruitment when you were there?
Tyus Jones: We talked about it. We talked about our different recruitments, schools and stuff like that, but we tried not to focus on that. We tried to focus on our goal, which was the gold medal.
GH: Do any of the players say “I would like to play with you?”
Tyus Jones: Definitely. You always want to play with the best, so there is talk like that, but we tried to not focus on that. We just tried to focus on the task at hand.
GH: It sounds like some big schools called you when you were gone, right?
Tyus Jones: When I was gone, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA and North Carolina called.
GH: That has to make you feel pretty good. Those are four of the biggest schools in basketball.
Tyus Jones: Yes. It felt good. They couldn’t call me because I was overseas, so they talked to my mom.
GH: Are you still pretty open in your recruitment?
Tyus Jones: Yes, I am still pretty open. I haven’t started to narrow anything down right now.
GH: How many offers are you up to right now? Do you still keep track?
Tyus Jones: I don’t have an exact numbers right now.
GH: Double digits, though, obviously?
Tyus Jones: Yes.
GH: What things have you been working on this summer to continue to improve yourself as a player?
Tyus Jones: Getting more explosive, always. Pull-up jump shots. Those are the main things. Always putting up shots
GH: You have gotten a chance to play with your Apple Valley team in the South Of The River League. How are things looking for upcoming season?
Tyus Jones: Things are really very well. We are going to have a great season. We lost only one senior from last year. We are playing well throughout the summer and we are looking to have a good season.
GH: It looks like you are going to have some more size this season with 6-foot-8 ninth grader Brock Bertram, who could turn out to be a very good player. Does that make you feel a little more positive since last year, you were a very small team?
Tyus Jones: It definitely helps. Being able to have a big guy down there. Last year, we were small, but we made it work. This year, we are going to add him and make that work as well.
GH: The two best teams in the section besides you, Eastview and Cretin Derham Hall, were senior-dominated teams. Do that give you guys a lot of confidence that if you do the things you need to do that you can finally get to state?
Tyus Jones: Definitely. If we take care of business, we should make our goals come true. That is what we are going to try to do. We are going to try to get to state this year. That is what we are working for and what we are trying to do now, is to get ready for that.
GH: Has it been a little bit frustrating that you have had a lot of success, but you want to get to state. You have come close, losing in the section championship game the past two years, but haven’t quite made it. Is it frustrating not getting over the hump?
Tyus Jones: It is always frustrating. You always want to get to the prize. You always want to win. You never want to lose. Being the competitor that I am. We are going to try to make it over the hump.