In the fall of 2015, Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski made Apple Valley’s Tre Jones a scholarship offer, telling Jones his vision for the future.
“It was before I really blossomed,” Jones said. “It was a vision I didn’t even see for myself yet.”
Jones will have the chance to make Coach K’s vision a reality. The 6-3 senior-to-be announced Sunday his decision to play college basketball at Duke.
Considered one of the top 10 recruits in the nation in the Class of 2018 and the top point guard in the class, Jones selected Duke over Minnesota, UCLA, Ohio State, Southern California and Oregon.
Jones cited Krzyzewski’s comments among the reasons for his choice.
“The more I kept working, the more I turned into a player like he saw,” Jones said. “I have a great relationship with the coaching staff and the guys who have gone through Duke. It’s like an extended family away from home.”
Jones led Apple Valley to the Class 4A championship in March and was named Gatorade State Player of the Year and AP Minnesota Player of the Year. His star continued to rise following a summer playing for the Howard Pulley AAU team that competes on the national Nike EYBL circuit.
Jones made his announcement before a crowd of roughly 150 at Cedar Valley Church in Bloomington. His family joined him on stage, and his basketball teammates and friends crowded the front rows of the church’s auditorium. After comments from Apple Valley coach Zach Goring and his oldest brother, Jadee, Jones took the stage. He thanked those close to him, then stood back and watched as his choice was made known on professionally done video shown on a large screen.
The comparison to his older brother Tyus, the current Timberwolves guard who guided Duke to a national championship in 2015, was unavoidable, but both Tre and Tyus stressed that the decision was solely made to reflect Tre’s best interests.
“All I did was be a supportive big brother and best friend,” Tyus said. “People always asked me if I was trying to convince him to go to Duke, and the answer was always, ‘No.’ Whatever he felt was the right decision for him, I was going to be ecstatic. The fact that he feels Duke was the right fit just makes it a little bit sweeter.”
Tre understood that people would think he was following in Tyus’ footsteps, something he’s done all his life.
“It’s nothing new to me, for sure,” he said. “I’ve been following him for all 17 years of my life now. I’m not scared of that shadow at all. The things he’s been able to accomplish in his basketball career, if I’m in the shadow of that, I’m totally fine with that. But I just want to be the best I can possibly be.”
There had been growing speculation in recent weeks that Minnesota might land him. The Gophers have received verbal commitments from three local stars who played with Jones on the Howard Pulley team — Daniel Oturu, Jarvis Thomas and Gabe Kalscheur — and there was talk that would be enough to sway him. Had he committed to Minnesota, it would have been the biggest confirmation to date that Richard Pitino has greatly improved the perception of the Gophers program.
“I don’t have anything bad to say about Minnesota,” Jones said. “Coach Pitino has done a great job with them. I just felt like Duke was the right fit.”