This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

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Catching up with Tyus Jones

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: May 27, 2013 - 11:19 AM

Tyus Mania continues. And the rising senior has given the masses plenty to fawn over, leading the EYBL in points (23.2), assists (6.8), steals (3) and minutes (30.8) a game through the first three sessions (California, Hampton [VA] and Dallas). He was back at it over the weekend, recording 101 points, 24 assists and eight steals in four games heading into Monday’s final matchup. I checked in with Jones to chat about the coaching changes at Minnesota, and what the next steps for him are.

As a reminder (as if you need it), Jones’ list of seven includes (in no particular order): Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio State, Baylor, Michigan State and the Gophers. At this point, he has only set up one official – Baylor – which he will be taking at the end of August. Jones is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation by ESPN and No. 3 by Rivals.

When did Richard Pitino and Co. first reach out to you and how has that contact gone so far? He talked to me the same night he got the job, and I’ve just been talking to him every so often, just trying to build a relationship with him. It’s just a fresh start – it’s a little later than other schools, but I’m still considering them and just building a relationship and going from there.

Obviously, you have no shortage of attention around here – but to have him call you the night he got the job, that’s got to feel pretty good that he’s making you a clear priority. It meant a lot to know that’s what they were thinking about that early. It was pretty hectic, so I told him he didn’t need to feel like he needed to call me everyday as soon as he got the job and stuff like that. So like I said, we’re just building a relationship – it felt good because it was kind of crazy with how it all happened and I know he was super busy, and his dad was in the Final Four and all that and it’s always busy when you get a new job – I appreciate it a lot.

Is it strange to have a change in coaching (after former coach Tubby Smith was fired) in one of your final remaining schools? How did you handle that? It was crazy how it all went down. I wasn’t expecting coach Smith to be gone, but I think coach Pitino is a good hire for them and he’s excited and hungry to get going, so it’s not a negative by any means.

Have you noticed differences in their (Smith and Pitino’s) recruiting styles? A little bit, just because coach Pitino is talking about their style of play, they’re more up and down and they’re going to get out and run and press and they’re going to be up in your face on defense, so it’s just a little bit different of a style of play, so they’re talking about different stuff with coach Pitino than with coach Smith.

Has that been one of his major selling points to you? Their style of play? Yeah, it has. Telling me I’d fit in because I’m looking to get up and down and just really play basketball, so it’s been a main point that they’ve been stressing.

I know you have a visit to Baylor schedule – is that it for you right now? Yep, that’s the only official I have planned.

What’s the next step for you? Do you want to take all five officials? I think so, I’m going to try to just take the process slow, so we’ll see where it goes. I’m looking to take all five, more than likely.

Do you plan on taking them all by fall? I’m taking Baylor at the end of August and that will be my first one so, I’m planning on doing them all in the fall.

As far as your final list of schools – do you think you are going to narrow it again? At this point I’m not going to be narrowing again. If I feel like I need to then I will but at this point, I probably won’t narrow it.

Since you’ve been around Minnesota so much, does it discourage you from doing an official there? I’ve already spent a lot of time on the campus, so I don’t know if I’ll take an official just because I’m on campus a lot already as it is and I’ve seen everything and it’s right down the street, so I don’t know if I’ll take an official there, so we’ll have to see.

You will have six schools remaining on your list after that – will it be tough to narrow out the one that doesn’t get the visit? It definitely will. It definitely will for the six left. All seven of them are great programs, and the six left, I’ve got good relationships with all the schools on the list, so it will be tough not being able to go to two of them.

Other schools been recruiting you for a really long time – and now with the coaching change at Minnesota, it’s kind of like a brand new situation. How has that changed how you view the program? I view them about the same, I’m just open-minded about the whole thing and I’m interested to see the new staff and how they do things around there. It didn’t go up or down, I still view them the same, I’m just open about it.
 

 

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