Tyus Jones, a 6-foot-2 junior point guard from Apple Valley, continues to attract attention. Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith and Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins and assistant Mark Madsen recently attended an open gym, even though Jones had a cast on his right hand. GopherHole.com caught up with Jones Sunday to learn the latest.
Gopher Hole: What is the injury?
Tyus Jones: I tore a ligament in my thumb. It happened in the beginning of June. I was thought it was just a bad jam, so I played through it and taped it up all summer and then went in after the Elite 24 game and went down to a doctor. I found out it was a torn ligament, so they had to go in and fix it up.
Gopher Hole: Did you have to have a MRI for that?
Tyus Jones: Yes.
Gopher Hole: How long do you have to wear the cast?
Tyus Jones: I’ll be in a splint for four weeks and then I’ll have to rehab it after that.
Gopher Hole: When are you allowed to start playing?
Tyus Jones: After I get done rehabbing it, so looking at the end of October or beginning of November
Gopher Hole: Is that going to be tough?
Tyus Jones: Yes, definitely tough. If anytime was the time to do, it is now. It is the most downtime that I get all year with the season and AAU. Got to do what you got to do and try to bounce back from it.
Gopher Hole: So, that left hand is going to be looking pretty good this year?
Tyus Jones: Right. Right. Exactly.
Gopher Hole: You want to be playing, but it is nice to get a little bit of a break since you have been playing year-round.
Tyus Jones: Definitely. Definitely. Being a basketball player, you love the game and you always want to play and get out there, but in a way you have to think of it as letting your body rest and recharge. Getting a little time off will help me.
Gopher Hole: You were recently at Baylor. What was that experience like?
Tyus Jones: It was good. I had a good visit. Just a normal, typical unofficial visit.
Gopher Hole: Did they have a football game down there?
Tyus Jones: They did. We actually did not go. It was later on Sunday. We flew back Sunday afternoon. .
Gopher Hole: Baylor has offered you a scholarship and they have some Minnesota ties with assistant Jerome Tang having spent time in Minnesota and Jared Nunness playing high school basketball in Minnesota. Is that one of the reasons that you are looking at them?
Tyus Jones: Definitely. My cousin, Jared Nunness, is down there, so that was the first reason I looked into Baylor and they started to recruit me.
Gopher Hole: It was obviously a nice family reunion since your dad went and got to spend time with Jared as well?
Tyus Jones: Definitely. We had not seen him in a couple of years, so it was definitely good to see him again.
Gopher Hole: Do you have any other plans for any trips or to go to any football games in the next couple of weeks?
Tyus Jones: I am going to visit North Carolina and Duke in mid-October, but other than that I don’t have other visits planned.
Gopher Hole: I have not talked to you since ESPN came out with their Class of 2014 rankings. Were you surprised with the number two ranking? What was the feeling?
Tyus Jones: It is an honor, I guess you could say. You try not to pay too much attention to the rankings and just try to focus on your game. That is what people talk about, so you hear. I think that I had a successful summer. I think that I played well, even with the injury, which set me back a little bit during June, but I tried to bounce back and had a successful Peach Jam, so I can’t complain.
Gopher Hole: It has to make you feel pretty proud, though?
Tyus Jones: Yes. Definitely. You can’t let that get to you. You have to keep working. You have to work even harder now.
Gopher Hole: There were three Minnesotans in that ESPN rankings with you at number two, Rashad Vaughn #12 and Reid Travis at #31. It is pretty amazing for a state the size of Minnesota to have three players ranked that high. Does that make it even more meaningful to have all three of you ranked that high?
Tyus Jones: Definitely. Those guys have been working their tails off to get better and improve and they have. They had great summers as well. It is something that is good and something to be proud of that Minnesota is looked at as a basketball powerhouse compared to some of the others state out there recruiting-wise or talent-wise based on the history. It is definitely good to see them getting some recognition.
Gopher Hole: What was the experience playing in the ESPN Top 24 game in California?
Tyus Jones: It was good. A lot of those guys you have seen or already have relationships with. It was a more laid back environment, so it was nice to just relax and you don’t have to take it so serious because it is more of a fun game.
Gopher Hole: Do you like playing in those games where defense is not emphasized?
Tyus Jones: It was harder. Those games are more for dunkers, I guess you could say. It wasn’t really my style, but I was making a few passes and stuff like that, so it was all fun.
Gopher Hole: Have you even talked to Rashad or Reid about the possibility of playing at the same place?
Tyus Jones: Definitely. I’ve talked to Rashad about it. Out there, you don’t really try to talk about colleges too much. It is more about enjoying yourself and you are out on Venice Beach. It is the end of the summer after a long AAU season and everything like that., but we have talked about it a little bit.
Gopher Hole: How about Reid? Have you talked to him much?
Tyus Jones: I haven’t. I haven’t talked to Reid about it as much. I’m sure it will come up and stuff like that. I have known him for awhile.
Gopher Hole: You and Rashad are going to be playing against each other at the Target Center January 5th. Have you talked to him about that?
Tyus Jones: I haven’t talked to him since I found that out, but I’m sure that we will have fun with it.
Gopher Hole: You are ranked 1 and 2 in the state and you playing for two of the best teams in the state.
Tyus Jones: Right, so we will have fun with it. We are good friends, so it makes it all the better.
Gopher Hole: Are you hearing from any new schools lately or is it status quo with the schools?
Tyus Jones: Pretty much the same. The most recent offers were Kansas and North Carolina
Gopher Hole: You can’t play right now, but Stanford’s head coach and assistant’s and Minnesota head coach came to your open gym. That must make you feel good that they came all this way even though you weren’t able to play?
Tyus Jones: Definitely. Stanford is the newest school that has been recruiting me pretty hard. It definitely feels good to see them coming out here and making the effort to come see me. Coach Smith and Coach (Joe) Esposito as well. I definitely wish I could be out here on the floor. That makes me want to play even more now.
Gopher Hole: A lot of Gopher fans would love to see you playing here. Do you ever hear from those fans?
Tyus Jones: Definitely. I am always hearing from hometown people. People are always tweeting me and stuff like that. You hear it a lot and it is going to be a lot of pressure from the hometown people, definitely, but we’ll have to see what happens.