Asked Thursday why it was time to leave Duke after a single college season, point guard Tyus Jones said there was nothing left to achieve.
“How I ended the season, how our team ended the season, it was the best opportunity for me and my family,” Jones said of turning pro after Duke won the national championship.
“When you finish the season on top, when there are only two teams playing at the end of the season, all eyes are on you and we felt this was my best opportunity.”
Not only did Duke beat Wisconsin for the title, but Jones was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.
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He’s projected to go between the middle and the end of the first round, which would guarantee the first two seasons financially on his rookie-scale contract.
At 6-foot-1, Jones isn’t particularly big for an NBA point guard, nor is he particularly explosive off the dribble. But he demonstrated a fundamental soundness his one season at Duke that gets him into the first round. Since his limitations are more physical than technical, staying another season at Duke probably wouldn’t have made much difference in his draft stock.
Jones said he thinks he’s the most “pure” point guard in this draft.
“There are a lot of great point guards in this draft. It’s heavy at that position,” Jones said. “I’m not necessarily an attacking point guard, a driving point guard, but I do feel I’m the best pure point guard as far as running a team.”
Jones is one of three Blue Devils freshmen to turn pro after the title run. Center Jahlil Okafor and forward Justise Winslow are both projected top-10 in this draft class.
Jones said that while “every kid goes into college dreaming of being a one-and-done,” he didn’t contemplate the decision until after the national championship game.
Jones grew up in Apple Valley, Minn., south of Minneapolis. He has struck up a friendship with Timberwolves great Kevin Garnett, and has been picking Garnett’s brain for tips on the NBA.
He certainly wouldn’t mind if draft night ended with him coming home to play.
“As a kid you dream of playing in the NBA, but especially the hometown team,” Jones said. “My family would love that.”
Shooters: The Charlotte Hornets clearly need to fix their poor shooting, particularly from 3-point range, and their player interviews here reflect that. Arizona forward Stanley Johnson and Nevada-Las Vegas guard Rashad Vaughn – both strong shooters – met with the team this week…
Crazy questions: North Carolina forward J.P. Tokoto said the Atlanta Hawks threw him a brain-teaser in his job interview. They suddenly asked him a math problem involving the comparative cost of a bat and a ball. But that wasn’t the strangest question of the day. It involved asking players how they would escape from a blender.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell