Duke Basketball: Tre Jones will be ideal mentor for Boogie Ellis

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

As Duke basketball fans gush over what is shaping up to be a successful spring signing period, they should take time to dream about what will surely be a beneficial bond between a returning point guard and a combo guard who signed in the fall.

Of all Tre Jones‘ likely teammates next season — including shooting guard Cassius Stanley, who announces his college choice on Monday — Boogie Ellis has the most potential to someday replace him as the Duke basketball program’s starting point guard.

Now, assuming Jones leaves after next season, it’s possible a 2020 recruit could arrive in Durham to take over his role. And Ellis, a four-star combo guard who was the second addition to the Blue Devils’ 2019 class, may end up finding more minutes at shooting guard than point guard both next season and beyond.

That being said, the only true point guard from the 2020 class holding a Duke offer at the moment is Jeremy Roach, whom most experts believe Kentucky and Villanova are the favorites to land. Also, combo guard R.J. Hampton, who is technically still a member of the 2020 class but is likely to reclassify to 2019, probably won’t end up a Blue Devil now that Jones has decided to return for a sophomore campaign.

Furthermore, with Alex O’Connell and Jordan Goldwire penciled in to be seniors when the 2020-21 season rolls around and the Blue Devils appearing to be ahead of the pack in the recruitment of 2020 shooting guard B.J. Boston, a logjam is appearing on the horizon at the two-guard position.

Adding it all up, as the future appears from what is known right now, Ellis should have an opportunity to play his way into the starting gig as the team’s floor general for the 2020-21 season (the ideal solution, obviously, would be for Jones to stick around to become a junior, but such a scenario seems to live within dreams more than reality).

But in order for Ellis — a 6-foot-2, 165-pound San Diego native who ranks No. 34 on the 247Sports Composite — to make the most of his time at Duke, he should start by making the most of his time under the tutelage of Jones.

Before delving into what Ellis could learn from Jones, though, it’s necessary to note Ellis is already a star in the scoring department. In fact, Jones may be able to learn a thing or two from watching Ellis’ array of weapons on offense, highlighted by his soft floaters and smooth outside jumpers.

Ellis, who was the only member of the Blue Devils’ current 2019 class left off the McDonald’s All-American Game rosters, will play in the Jordan Brand Classic tonight in Las Vegas at 8 p.m. EST.

ALSO READ: McDonald’s snub of Boogie Ellis may benefit Blue Devils

Leading up to the event this week, during scrimmages primarily against five-stars, Ellis has displayed enough offensive prowess to prove he’s worthy of more respect; one possible explanation for his ranking not being higher is that he was not in the top 100 for his class early on in his high school career.

Check out this short clip highlighting Ellis, wearing No. 4 for the squad in black, from an hour-long scrimmage Friday:

Notes: Fellow Duke signees Wendell Moore, a five-star small forward who ranks No. 22, and Vernon Carey Jr., a five-star center who ranks No. 3, will also play tonight; same goes for Stanley, a four-star who ranks No. 29. However, Matthew Hurt, a five-star power forward who ranks No. 8 and signed with Duke on Friday, will not. The game is not on TV but will stream live on Twitter from the @Jumpman23 account.

ALSO READ: Matthew Hurt commits, may become a target for haters

Back to Ellis. Again, as partially evidenced in the video above, with his quick first step, his determined drives, his polished stroke, and his masterful use of the glass, the 18-year-old has no issues finding the bottom of the net.

As for finding open teammates, making the right decisions, and hunkering down on defense, though, it’s Ellis who should have his eyes and ears wide open when he soon starts practicing and scrimmaging alongside Jones.

Jones already owns an impressive résumé as a prototypical college point guard. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Minnesota native set a Duke record last season by finishing with a 3.62 assist-to-turnover ratio while also snatching 1.9 steals per game on his way to earning both a spot on the ACC All-Defensive Team and coach Mike Krzyzewski’s recognition as one of the program’s all-time defenders.

Therefore, based on the fact Jones’ strengths closely align with Ellis’ weaknesses, and vice versa,  the fact they have an opportunity to be teammates for at least one season should turn out to be a blessing for the program’s future beyond Jones’ departure.

So while it is easy for fans to get caught up in the anticipation of Stanley’s upcoming announcement and the still-fresh exhilaration from the addition of Hurt, it’s wise not to sleep on or forget about Ellis.

ALSO READ: Cassius Stanley’s two-day delay no worry for Duke

Ellis’ potential as a Blue Devil has no limit so long as he is willing to take notes on how Jones plays — not to mention the love for Duke that Jones displayed both by bawling his eyes out after last season’s Elite Eight loss to Michigan State and by refusing to bolt to the NBA without first compiling memories from winning a national championship.

In short, Ellis possesses the skills to play point guard; he simply requires a little fine-tuning.

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In closing, to provide context for Duke basketball fans who may come across one of the countless tweets from UNC fans bashing Coach K for what they claim is his disrespecting of Ellis by extending a late offer to Stanley, remember Ellis chose the Blue Devils over the Tar Heels.

And those bitter UNC fans are wishing right about now Ellis was a future Tar Heel as the UNC coaches continue to desperately search for a backup plan at point guard next season in case Cole Anthony chooses a better option — i.e., any other option — than taking his talents to Chapel Hill.

Remember, Ellis chose to become a Blue Devil, recognizing the wealth of talent the program attracts every year at all positions.

And even if he never sees much playing time at Duke at either guard position — seems likely he’ll see plenty at both, though he may first have to watch and learn for a spell —  considering he comes across a bright young man, he would still surely see for himself why it was wise for him not to become a Tar Heel.

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Plus, on top of everything else, Jones — who has quickly become one of all Dukies’ all-time favorites, largely due to his passionately embracing his title as a Blue Devil — should quickly be able to teach Ellis, if necessary, the difference between good and evil shades of blue.