Like Baylor, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Minnesota, and Ohio State, Duke is fighting hard for one of the top recruits in the country, Tyus Jones. If Jones decides to attend Duke, he obviously plans to be a starter. The tough part is Duke will likely have senior point guard Quinn Cook on the team during Jones freshman year. Cook and Jones likely won’t split only 40 minutes, so they will have to play together at some point. The question is how well they can play together.
If Tyus Jones goes to Duke, I believe there will be a place for him to start. At least one of Rasheed Sulaimon, Rodney Hood, and Jabari Parker will declare for the NBA Draft making room for Jones to start. Rasheed Sulaimon is starting at shooting guard this season, but could slide to small forward again to let Jones start. It can be questioned if Cook and Jones can both start together, but if Coach K wants to, he definitely can start Cook and Jones together.
Quinn Cook will definitely have a starting spot for his senior year. He started for most of sophomore year and looks to start this season, his junior year. I have yet to see his name in NBA Draft talks, so I would be shocked not to see him back for his senior season. He definitely has a spot in the 2014-15 starting lineup.
As the top point guard recruit for 2014-15, Tyus Jones expects to start for whatever team he joins. He is much coveted, as seen by all the scholarship offers he has received. He expects to start, and will only come to Duke if he knows he is going to start.
If Tyus Jones comes to Duke, Duke will have two great point guards who need to start. Coach K is such a great coach at adjusting to his team, and will find a way to get both on the court at the same time.
Coach K had a similar “issue” during the 2010-11 season with senior Nolan Smith and top freshman Kyrie Irving. Many consider that season a disappointment. Duke lost in the Sweet Sixteen after winning the Championship the year before. But, they ran into very bad luck that lead to that early NCAA Tournament loss. Kyrie Irving missed much of the regular season after getting off to a great start. It also took a 32 point and 13 rebound game from Derrick Williams to knock them off. Even with all the bad luck, Duke still managed to have a 32-5 season.
When Irving and Smith played together, they were very successful. This was seen most in Duke’s win over sixth ranked Michigan State. Duke picked apart Michigan State, with Kyrie Irving scoring 31 points and Nolan Smith having 17 points and combining for 9 assists. They were able to split the time with the ball, each scoring and helping their teammates stay involved. A Quinn Cook and Tyus Jones backcourt would give Duke a chance to finally see what could have been.
Quinn Cook and Tyus Jones may not be as talented as Nolan Smith and Kyrie Irving but they can fill similar roles. Coach K should be able to use the same strategy that he used with them just four years before. Quinn Cook should be able to take Nolan Smith’s role and Tyus Jones should be able to take Kyrie Irving’s role.
Nolan Smith played off ball more then he had his whole career, but used it to increase his scoring. He improved his scoring ability and was still able to assist his teammates. Quinn Cook is much more of a true point guard then Smith was, but he could benefit from playing off ball. He had trouble last season playing as the only real ball handler for Duke last season. With an extra good ball handler to play with, Cook’s game will likely improve.
Tyus Jones has more similarities with Kyrie Irving. It would be unfair to compare him to a current NBA all-star, but their games have many similarities. Coming out of high school, both were great drivers and finishers, with the ability to assist and shoot. Tyus Jones definitely has the ability to average 17.5 points per game and 4.3 assist per game, as Kyrie did in his 11 collegiate games.
At 6’0″ (Cook) and 6’2″ (Jones), Duke would be a little undersized defensively. This is not a huge deal though, as long as they both play good individual and team defense. Short backcourts are not uncommon in college basketball though. Louisville won the National Championship last season with starting guards at 6’0″ (Peyton Siva) and 6’1″ (Russ Smith). It will be a disadvantage at times, but nothing Duke can’t overcome.
Many people doubt it, but I think Quinn Cook and Tyus Jones could form one of the best backcourts in college basketball. Both players would have to adjust to playing with another guard, but both have the selfless attitude to do it. The only thing that can stop Duke from having a very talented 2014-15 backcourt, is Jones not coming to Duke. If he comes to Duke, he will combine with Cook to make another very talented Duke team.