Tyus Jones, a 6-foot-2 junior point guard from Apple Valley, is considered a must-get recruit for seven programs, including Minnesota. GopherHole.com caught up with Jones Thursday to learn the latest on his recruitment.
Gopher Hole: Of the seven schools that are recruiting you, were all seven in California watching you this past weekend?
Tyus Jones: Yes.
Gopher Hole: Are you expecting all seven of them to be in Hampton for the Boo Williams Invitational this weekend?
Tyus Jones: I am. The U of M can’t be there because the old staff used up all but one of the viewing opportunities, so they wouldn’t be able to attend any games or anything like that, but all the other schools will be there.
Gopher Hole: They will be in the gym though.
Tyus Jones: Yes, they will be in the gym still.
Gopher Hole: That has to make you feel pretty good that all those teams are looking at you at both events?
Tyus Jones: Definitely. It is good to know that the coaches care and want to be out there to check you out and see you play.
Gopher Hole: How about the first week of the EYBL? You lost a couple of close games. What was the feeling about your first week?
Tyus Jones: I think that it was a learning experience for us. We had a lot of new guys on the circuit. It was a first time seeing anything like that, so we can’t be too upset. We have to start from there and build and take it as a learning experience and go up.
Gopher Hole: Was that kind of tough having that as your first real week of games? It might have been nice to have a week of playing to get ready for the EYBL.
Tyus Jones: Definitely. It was tough being our first games as tough of competition as that was. Like I said, it was good for us, so know what we are up against and how we need to improve and play.
Gopher Hole: Do you think that will be a big help having that one week of playing?
Tyus Jones: It will be. We have a lot of games left to bounce back.
Gopher Hole: One of those games is against the Wisconsin Playground Elite and Rashad Vaughn. Is that something you are looking forward to playing them?
Tyus Jones: You know, it is just another game that we are going to try to get a win. Every game out there is a battle and a tough game and if you can get a win versus any team, you’ll take it, so that is what we are going to try to do and get the job done.
Gopher Hole: Does that make this week even more important after going 1-3 as you obviously want to get into the Peach Jam (the top 24 of Nike’s 40 teams advance to Augusta in July)?
Tyus Jones: We have to win a few games out there. We have to start stringing some good games together now and really pick up our play.
Gopher Hole: Is your good friend Jahlil Okafor supposed to play this week?
Tyus Jones: He doesn’t know yet. I know that his ankle is still bothering him a little bit this week. I haven’t heard anything recently.
Gopher Hole: Are all seven schools that are recruiting you recruiting him or are there a couple of schools that aren’t recruiting him as hard?
Tyus Jones: All seven of the schools that are on my list are recruiting him.
Gopher Hole: Have you had a chance to meet with Coach Pitino since he has been here?
Tyus Jones: I meet with him in person once, but I have been talking to him through texting and calling every now and then.
Gopher Hole: What have your impressions been so far?
Tyus Jones: He is a good guy. He knows his basketball really well. Been around the game, you can tell that. He is just excited to get him and his new staff and the team rolling. He is excited and hungry.
Gopher Hole: Obviously, Gopher fans who want you to stay here, are probably a little bit concerned that they are so far behind, while coaches like Coach Izzo, Coach K or Coach Matta have been recruiting you for a couple of years. Is that a concern that Gopher fans should have or is that not that big of a deal?
Tyus Jones: It is tough with it being so late, but it is just like the beginning of any of the other school’s recruitment. I have to build a relationship with the coach and just go from there. It is starting a little bit later than other schools, but it is nothing like where I can’t go there now. If I wasn’t going to go there, they wouldn’t be on my list, so I am still considering them and building a relationship with Coach Pitino and seeing where it goes.
Gopher Hole: Have you thought about when you are going to decide. Most people thought that you would sign in the fall, like most of the top players do. Is that still the goal or have you thought that far yet?
Tyus Jones: I think that it would be nice to have signed by then, but definitely with the “U” making the coaching change, their season wouldn’t have even started by then or maybe they’d have a game or two by then. I might have to wait now just because of that, but that would be the goal. We’ll see how that plays out.
Gopher Hole: Have you taken any official visits yet?
Tyus Jones: Officials, no.
Gopher Hole: Have you set up any dates yet for any of those?
Tyus Jones: No dates set up. I’ll be taking those in the fall. I’ll be waiting until the fall to take those.