Duke basketball: The trouble Tre Jones has trying to replicate trickshot

Duke basketball (Photo by Peyton Williams/UNC/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Peyton Williams/UNC/Getty Images) /

NBA-bound Tre Jones recently reflected on the top highlight of the 2019-20 Duke basketball season and the lack of an NCAA Tournament.

Make the first. Miss the second. Get the rebound. Hit the shot. That’s all there is to it. So then why does Tre Jones struggle these days when attempting to do what he did on Feb. 8 to send his Duke basketball team into overtime against North Carolina in Chapel Hill? Well, one basic requirement for a miracle to take place is the need for one in the first place.

Responding this week to SI writer Jason Jordan’s inquiry as to how many times out of 10 attempts he could perfectly miss a free throw off the front of the rim to grab the rebound — not to mention hitting a game-tying 20-footer seconds later to cap off his nine-point effort in the final 50 seconds of regulation — Jones pointed out the problem:

“I think it depends on the scenario I’m in. If you throw me in a close game, and I need to pull that off again, I think maybe I’ll be able to give you one of those 10 chances. But just going to the gym and being by myself in there, I’ve tried it already, and it wasn’t very successful in a lot of the tries.”

As became apparent throughout Duke’s campaign (25-6, 15-5 ACC, No. 11 in final AP Poll), Jones thrives in crunch time. During many such times as a sophomore co-captain, specifically down the stretch of the 98-96 comeback victory at UNC, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound point guard’s shots looked crisper than usual, his instincts appeared superhuman, and his nerves seemed nonexistent.

Knowing what his bag of clutch tricks contains, Jones explained to SI his heartache from not having another chance to test out his March Madness magic due to the nonexistence of postseason play:

“When it finally set in that it just wasn’t going to happen, no matter what, it hurt. As a competitor, you always know that you at least have a chance. That was really the whole reason I wanted to go to Duke was to get that national championship.”

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After averaging 16.2 points, 6.4 assists, and 1.8 steals on his way to becoming ACC Player of the Year and ACC Defensive Player of the Year, the native of Apple Valley, Minn., has now left the Blue Devils for the NBA Draft. The 20-year-old is likely to go late in the first round or early in the second — his older brother, Tyus, departed Duke as a freshman national champ and went No. 24 at the 2015 NBA Draft — meaning the younger Jones may or may not see a guaranteed contract on draft night.

ALSO READ: NBA Draft streaks in serious jeopardy for Blue Devils

Meanwhile, Duke basketball fans would cue the above tape to remind franchises that the late-game trickery alone from Jones could prove priceless.

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