Talk to Tre Jones for as little as ten minutes and the comparisons to his older brother, Tyus, become obvious.
There’s the thick, curly coif; the freckles; the threat of an early crop of facial hair – and of course, the cool, way-too-mature-for-his-age demeanor.
Yes, Tre Jones looks and acts (on the surface, anyway) a lot like big brother Tyus, who is expected to be taken late in the first round or early in the second round of Thursday’s NBA draft.
But four years younger, Tre Jones is still watching and learning and growing, albeit in the unintended shadow of a superstar.
Just after finishing up his high school freshman season, Tre Jones watched Tyus – in his freshman season with Duke -- claim the NCAA championship MVP while leading the Blue Devils to a national title in Indianapolis.
Understandably, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind for everyone.
“It’s crazy,” Tre Jones said last month while suited up for Howard Pulley at an Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) event in Maple Grove. “Just a year ago, he was walking around in high school and now he’s preparing for the draft, so it’s kind of crazy to think of but it’s cool at the same time.
“It was a lot of fun to see my brother out there -- it was like a dream come true for him to play in the national championship. He set the bar high. I want to achieve some of the things that he has.”
He’s beginning to do just that.
The piling accomplishments and accolades are, perhaps, the greatest hint that Tre Jones is following in the footsteps of his famed sibling.
This spring, after averaging 10 points, three rebounds, five assists and three steals, Tre Jones helped Apple Valley High School to a 4A state title (Tyus won one of those too). This summer, the younger Jones was named one of 12 competitors on the USA U-16 national team. On June 14, the squad came back from a 20-point deficit to beat Canada in the FIBA Americas U16 Championship game in Argentina, winning the gold medal (Tyus won one of those too). Tre Jones finished the tournament with 19 steals, smashing the previous USA U16 competition record of 14 (Malik Newman, 2013).
Some of that is starting to sound familiar – a young T. Jones, seemingly bound for success. Luckily for the younger version, he’s got a role model and tour guide at the ready. Perhaps that’s why the 2018 recruit – who already has one scholarship offer, from Texas Tech and former Minnesota coach Tubby Smith -- is already mirroring Tyus’ modest and measured nature, and why he seems more comfortable than most high school freshmen when talking to the media.
“It’s a blessing,” he said of Tyus’ influence. “He’s such a good person with the media and everybody that I can kind of learn a lot of things from that and just be the same in that type of way.”
As a 6-2 point guard (Tyus is a 6-1 point guard), there are plenty of on-court things Tre can learn as well. At his young age, he’s not quite the distributor Tyus was, but he is already making a case that he’s the better defender.
This summer, Tre Jones is intent on improving his jump shot and growing in the leadership department. It’s something he saw his brother do around this time – transforming from a reserved teammate to a true floor general.
“[At first,] he was really quiet,” Tre Jones said. “He didn’t talk a lot at first, but a lot of coaches told him he needed to be a better leader, so he just worked on it and became a better one.”
Tre Jones said his brother tells him broadly to “keep working hard.”
If he does, will he challenge to repeat some of Tyus’ other accomplishments? Maybe break some of big bro’s records?
Tre Jones, with a way-too-mature-for-his-age smile, said any smack talk about such things is still far away. He’ll enjoy his own path which just so happens to include some similarities.
“Once I get closer, maybe we’ll talk about it,” he said. “I don’t really look forward to any of that stuff but if I keep working hard, maybe some of those things will happen.”