As we all know by now, Tyus Jones, the top point guard prospect in the rising senior class, is one of Duke’s top two targets for this year. The diminutive distributor and his AAU squad, Howard Pulley took on BABC last night at the AAU Super Showcase down in Orlando, Florida. I, like many, was able to take the game in on ESPNU and came away with several impressions of the kid many consider will be a Duke player for the 2015 season.
The first thing I was able to notice was Jones’ poise at all times. He steadies himself on the court and presses only when necessary. This trait is most evidenced in how he changes pace on the court. One moment, he’s trotting along the sideline, the next he darts to the middle of the lane and catches an entry pass. Never an once of wasted energy because he possesses the rare ability to flip a switch on when to insert himself into the play.
The selectiveness, while can be seen as taking plays off, is more to ensure his teammates have an impact. We saw a few years ago with Stephen Curry at Davidson that teams could key in on an individual (remember the Triangle and 2 game for Curry?) and force his teammates to make the plays necessary. Jones seems to use his teammates as a means to keep the defense balanced. Sometimes, they focused on him, other times they had no choice but to leave him as he drifted from the play.
I like to think he was controlling the defense from the beginning of the game. In fact, on many of his dribble drives, he would slice into the lane, then move away from the basket to draw defenders off of Reid Travis and his other teammates. In fact, he did this on four consecutive possessions at the start of the game. Unfortunately, they missed all but one of those easy shots.
When he wasn’t using the defenders like pawns, Jones was relentlessly attacking on the fastbreak. Of his six made field goals, all were in the lane on drives and five we’re on fast break lay ups. However, they weren’t simply wide open run aways, in fact, most were contested which allowed Jones to show off a crafty finishing ability I haven’t seen in a Duke point guard since Irving was trolling the NC Pro Am.
His passing was impeccable as well. Finishing the night with 8 assists felt like a crime against his play. If not for missed bunnies, Jones would have had at least 13. He hit teammates in stride on back door cuts, on the fly, on dump offs, on the break; any situation presented to him, Jones made the pass.
Truthfully, the only knock I saw on the kid was that he couldn’t be any taller than 6’0″ and his athleticism wasn’t really showcased. He’s not a guy that will wow you like John Wall did years ago but he’ll win you a ton of games. Last night, Howard Pulley trailed by 10 in the fourth quarter before Jones rallied them back on fast breaks and clutch free throw shooting. Some are saying he is a one and done but the kid I watched last night looks like a two year player, not for a lack of talent, but for a lack of desirable NBA measurables.
Which means the lucky team to land him might be reaping the rewards for a while.