“I have officially narrowed my college choices to... Baylor, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, UNC,” the original tweet read.
But while the Apple Valley guard knows that some will look at that and think Minnesota doesn’t belong, Jones said it’s no mistake.
“You know, they’ve been there since the beginning of it all.,” he said Tuesday of the Gophers. “They’re the hometown school, so I grew up watching them. I’ve got a good relationship with coach [Tubby] Smith and coach [Ron] Jirsa and the coaching staff there. There one of the first schools that started recruiting me and I like what they’re doing over there. So that’s why they’re still one of my final schools I’m looking at.”
As for the rest of the list, Jones said he just felt ready to make the next step in the recruiting process, and be able to focus on a core group of schools (the number was arbitrary), although he is still hearing from some coaches that aren’t on the list.
But it wasn’t a painstaking process, the junior said. Those eight are the schools that have been recruiting him the hardest throughout, he said, and were the ones that called to him.
“I feel like what all these schools have in common is a great tradition,” he said. “I have great relationships with all the head coaches at those schools, and I feel like I would fit in with those schools, compared to those across the country.”
Jones said he is still serious about going to college with one of his good friends, Chicago’s Jahlil Okafor, who has not yet narrowed down his own list. In the ESPN rankings, Jones is listed at No. 1 nationally, and Okafor at No. 2 (Rivals has Okafor at No. 1 and Jones at No. 3). Most schools on Jones’ list have offered or showed significant interest in Okafor (including Minnesota, which has offered), but the Apple Valley player said if one of the schools on his list didn’t make the offer, it could sway his decision.
The junior said he didn’t have any further plans to narrow his list further for the time being.
“I’m just kind of focusing on this eight and then go from there,” he said.
This is Amelia Rayno's fifth 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.