Tre Jones has been fortunate to be able to rely on his family for advice on how to handle almost every situation he faced on the basketball court.
And he blossomed into one of the top players in college basketball at Duke.
But even with his older brother, Tyus, paving the way to the NBA after also starring as a point guard for the Blue Devils, it couldn’t prepare Tre for what to expect trying to take the next step this year.
An unprecedented and drawn-out NBA draft process during the coronavirus pandemic meant waiting longer than any prospects ever had. Still, Jones used the extra time to get healthy and boost his stock before Wednesday’s NBA draft.
“It has been pretty crazy,” Jones said. “It’s been almost seven months trying to prepare for the draft. But I feel like going through it all, having this much time to focus on myself and get better on all the areas I want to improve on and need to improve on has been really good.”
Since his days at Apple Valley, Jones has been known for his leadership and all-around game, especially is ability as a lockdown defender. His goal now is to be a constant on the All-NBA defensive teams. But showing he’s 100% healthy and that he has a consistent jump shot was essential before the draft.
Before the start of last season at Duke, Jones had hip and hernia surgeries to correct lingering problems he played through since before college. His body is at full strength now — and it shows.
Working at P3 Sports Science training facility in Santa Barbara with Gophers big man Daniel Oturu, Jones put together “one of the more complete performances” they ever tracked in hoops, according to his draft assessment.
In a three-point shooting drill simulating the NBA draft combine, Jones shot 18-for-20 recently. He also set facility records for lateral quickness, to go along with a max vertical jump of 40 inches.
“The last several months, I’ve been trying to work on my body a lot,” Jones said. “I haven’t had this much time healthy to just be able to work on my body. So, being able to focus on that I’ve been able to get stronger, more athletic, and more explosive. That’s really big.”
As a sophomore last season, Jones said he made major strides with his leadership and scoring ability while having to replace 2019 NBA lottery picks Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett. He averaged 16.2 points, 6.4 assists and shot 36.1% from three-point range (up from 26.2% as a freshman).
“I took a jump from Year 1 to Year 2,” Jones said. “But there is another transition now to the NBA. So, I want to keep building on that and make sure I’m just getting more and more consistent every day.”
Jones is expected to be one of four players from the state of Minnesota — in addition to Oturu, Stanford’s Tyrell Terry and Arizona’s Zeke Nnaji — picked in Wednesday’s draft, which would be a record.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “The time has flown, though. And you can’t be too anxious or stressed out, because this is the moment we’ve all been waiting for.”