Let me preface this by saying the Gophers are still the underdogs. Far and away, the underdogs.

This Minnesota coaching staff has been recruiting Tyus Jones for about a fifth of the time as the other programs on his list. And the Gophers don’t have nearly as much to boast, or to use to lure him.

That said, Jones seems to genuinely like coach Richard Pitino and his staff, and said for the first time on Wednesday that he is considering taking an official visit to his home state school.

Tuesday, Jones listed his set official visit plans on Twitter: Baylor, Kentucky, Kansas and Duke.

Four. Of course, since recruits are allowed five, that opens up the obvious question. Is that list complete, or is he considering another?

“I’m just leaving things open,” Jones told the Star Tribune. “I might take an official to Minnesota still, I just don’t know as of now.”

While the Gophers addition to Jones’ list has long been considered simply lip service by many, it is at least interesting that he could be considering officially visiting Minnesota (which was not specifically asked about in the question).

Previously, Jones has said he will NOT official at Minnesota, since he is able to go to the campus from his Apple Valley home whenever he likes.

It could be a sign of respect for the new staff, which has, if nothing else, made a positive impression on the star point guard, who has certainly noticed the change of pace from previous head coach Tubby Smith and his staff.

Tuesday, Jones unofficially visited Minnesota campus for the second time since Pitino has been there, talking with the coaches in their offices and “hanging out” at Williams Arena for a while.

“They just have two different styles, two different approaches to things,” Jones said. “Coach Pitino and his staff, they’re a little bit younger and they do things different, so it’s definitely a different feel – just how they’re running the team and how they’re recruiting myself. ... I just like how enthused they are about the new opportunities for themselves, especially Coach Pitino, how hungry they are and how excited they are just to get going and get headed in the right direction.”

That’s all nice and good, but as if the Gophers aren’t already at a great enough disadvantage, there’s another meaningful tidbit: Jones is still planning on doing the “package deal” thing with longtime buddy Jahlil Okafor, who definitely does not have Minnesota on his list. Even if Jones does have a renewed interest in his home state school, that’s an awfully big plan to break – and probably helps drive the nail in his commitment elsewhere.

“We still feel we’re going to try to make that happen,” Jones said.

Three of the four officials he has set will be done simultaneously with Okafor. Kentucky is the only exception, and was a case in which the recruits schedules simply couldn’t line up. Not getting a visit are Michigan State and Ohio State, the latter of which he “hasn’t been hearing from much lately” after the commitment of D’Angelo Russell. He’s visited both Michigan State and Ohio State unofficially.

Jones said he plans to visit all four – or five – before making a decision, and wants to decide sometime in October or early November. So the drama will all be over soon. For now, though, there is still a lot of decision-making data to be collected.

“I’m looking to spend time with the coaching staffs and the players,” Jones said. “Just getting general feel just because that’s where you’re going to be living, you’re going to be there 24/7, and around those people, so you want to feel comfortable.”

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