An eventful two weeks for Apple Valley, Minn., native Tyus Jones has ended with an announcement that the Duke freshman is going pro.
The school announced Wednesday that Jones, who led Apple Valley High School to a state championship before leading Duke to a national championship last week, will enter the NBA Draft after just one season with the Blue Devils. It caps what has been a crazy ride for Jones that included winning the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player, gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated and helping Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett throw out the first pitch at Monday’s Minnesota Twins home opener.
"Coming to Duke was a dream of mine and being a part of such a special team was amazing," Jones said in a statement released by the school. "I am faced with the tough decision of returning to a place I love or pursuing my next dream. With the support and guidance of my family, my coaches, my teammates, and Duke University, I have decided to start my professional career. Even though I am entering the NBA Draft, I will forever be a Duke Blue Devil."
Jones has been on the college basketball world’s radar since he was an eighth grader at Apple Valley. The talented point guard had offers from schools like Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, and of course, Duke. He ultimately chose the Blue Devils and teamed up with his good friend Jahlil Okafor, who also left after one season and could be the first pick in this year’s NBA Draft.
As a freshman, Jones averaged 11.8 points and 5.6 assists per game for the national champion Blue Devils. He saved his best game for last, though, as he scored 19 second-half points in the NCAA championship game against Wisconsin to lift Duke to a 68-63 victory.
Jones will likely be a first-round pick in June’s draft. NBADraft.net has Jones going No. 17 overall to the Milwaukee Bucks, while DraftExpress.com pegs Jones as the No. 21 pick to Dallas.
"We’re so very happy for him and his family to have the opportunity to declare for the draft," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. "He’s going to get a lot better, but people have already seen him and know how he handles himself, especially in pressure situations and in the biggest games. He comes through like a champion."