Tyus Jones strolled into Michelle Lundquist’s classroom as a sophomore. The Apple Valley High School math teacher knew of the budding star’s basketball prowess.
“I waited for the ego and the big head that often accompanies someone of such great talent,” Lundquist said. “I remember thinking that very thing the first time he walked through my classroom door.”
Lundquist remains one of his teachers in his senior year.
“Over two years later, I am still waiting for the ego and big head,” Lundquist said. “I know I will always remember Tyus Jones for who he is rather than what he can do. He brings a grace and humility to the sports world that is not often seen today.”
He also brings extraordinary talent to the basketball floor. Jones set more than 10 school records, filled gyms with fans every time he played and drew scholarships offer from the nation’s most prolific college programs. More people turned out to watch his team win the Class 4A title last March than for any game since the tournament split into four classes in 1997.
That likely explains the exhale of disappointment from basketball fans when Jones’ prep career came to a halt Thursday in a double-overtime loss to Cretin-Derham Hall in the Section 3 finals. The Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year heads off to Duke next fall without making one last state tournament appearance this week at Target Center.
“The impact Tyus has made on Apple Valley basketball has been remarkable,” Eagles coach Zach Goring said. “Even more important than that is the way he has represented our program, our school and our community in such a positive light.”
In the classroom
Jones, who also won Metro Player of the Year honors in 2012, takes more pride in dishing off to a teammate for an assist than he does scoring. He is more focused on team success than what he accomplishes as an individual. He is exactly the same in the classroom.
“The characteristics that make him a great basketball player and won him the Eagle Excellence award [dedicated, driven, hardworking] in 2012 still shine through,” Lundquist said. “He is willing to teach other students how to do the math, too.”
Lundquist first had Jones as a student in Algebra 2 as a sophomore. He currently is in her CAPS (College Algebra, Probability and Statistics) class. Jones carries a 3.2 grade-point average.
“As seniors they get to choose their own seats, and he is always front and center,” Lundquist said. “Tyus is one of the top students in my class.”
His determination in the classroom also played a role in his selection of a college. His final choices boiled down to Baylor, Duke and Kansas.
“It was definitely a hard decision,” Jones said. “All the colleges recruiting me were great schools with great academics. I could see myself at all of them.”
He is undecided on a major, but is leaning toward broadcasting and/or African-American studies.
When he trimmed his list of possible destinations down to eight, Kentucky, Michigan State, Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio State were also in the mix.
“It was really tough for me to pick one, and have to say no to all the other coaches.” Jones said. “It was a long recruiting process. There was a lot of long nights and trips to schools.”