No position has quite the impact on the game as the point guard. Call it the quarterback of basketball; point guards have developed from game-managers to game-changers over the years. With score-first points like Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Damian Lillard bursting onto the scene in recent years, you might think that the set-up man is on the verge of extinction.
Tyus Jones, the 6-1, 180-pound Duke recruit, is a player whose game is a blend of old and new. Capable of creating his own shot and scoring at the rim, Jones looks to put his teammates in ideal positions to score before looking for his own shot. It’s no wonder then that the player he looks up to the most is reigning top dog Chris Paul. Jones, like Paul, controls the pace of the game, using his remarkable speed to keep the defense off guard.
Before forming a deadly pick-and-roll tandem with Jahlil Okafor next year with the Blue Devils, Jones discussed his on and off the court interests with Dime during the McDonald’s All-American festivities.
*** *** ***
Dime: One thing I notice when I watch you play is that you play with such poise. How do you stay so calm out there?
Tyus Jones: That’s just kind of how I am as a person. I’m really laid back and I think that’s something that translates onto the court. As a point guard, you know I have to be the leader and that’s something I pride myself in being. If the guys see I’m hectic or worried or that I’m upset out there I think that rubs off on them. So, I figure if I stay calm and poised out and kind of show them that everything going to be alright and not to let everything get to you; I think that rubs off on the team.
Dime: Who are you watching in the pros? Point guards such an important position and there are so many good ones out there, who do you look at and say, “Hey, I want to take that from him?”
TJ: I love watching Chris Paul. I love watching what he does–you know he’s a magician out there. I love watching Kyrie Irving play as well; former Duke alumni. But, I love watching Chris Paul just because we’re similar in height and I think a lot of people might have doubted him going into the league and what he was able to do. But then he put up crazy numbers and helped his team win, so I love being able to watch what he does and how he approaches the game.
Dime: You’re from Minnesota, how is that transition to North Carolina looking?
TJ: I’m excited; you know I’m from Minnesota. It’s crazy cold up there. We have some crazy winters. But to be going down to North Carolina it’ll be a lot warmer, so it’s exciting (laughs).
Dime: What lead you to Duke? What were you looking for in a school?
TJ: What I really liked about Duke is the tradition they have there. What it means to wear Duke across your chest is something that’s obviously special, and then the ability to play for Coach K, arguably one of the greatest coaches of all time, a great basketball mind. So I felt playing underneath him would really benefit me.
Dime: Obviously with Jahlil (Okafor) coming in as well you guys can become a great pick-and-roll tandem. Are you developing that chemistry now, trying to figure each other out going into the year?
TJ: Definitely. We’ve already got somewhat of a great chemistry. Off the court we’re great friends so we have great chemistry, but on the court because we played USA together, playing on two USA teams together has really helped our chemistry and that’s what really made us want to further in into college ball.
Dime: What kind of stuff are you doing off the court?
TJ: I’m into sneakers; I’ve got a lot of shoes. I’m not a sneakerhead, but I have a lot of shoes. You know I like to just spend time with my family and just watch movies, go to movies; not a whole lot. I’m really laid back.
Dime: What’s your favorite movie?
TJ: Umm… I think overall it’s got to be Space Jam. It has a lot of meaning to me.
Dime: Who’s your favorite artist that you’re listening to a lot nowadays?
TJ: My favorite artist is Lil Wayne. I listen to a lot of his old stuff. But, I really listen to a lot of music, so whoever has some new stuff out is always on my playlist.
What do you think?
Follow Ian on Twitter at @Ian_Flick.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.