Timberwolves rookie point guard Tyus Jones was back at his old high school in Apple Valley on Wednesday for a motivational event called “The Harbor by Jostens,” during which he gave advice to students who in some cases are only a couple years younger than him. It was good stuff, and afterward he met with some assembled media members on a variety of subjects. I had a chance to ask him a couple things — specifically about his reaction to the recent news of Flip Saunders’ cancer diagnosis and his contact with the Wolves coach/president. Here is Jones response to that and a few other questions (Massive selfie photo thanks to @Kyle Ratke):
On Saunders: It hit me pretty hard just because you never want anyone to go through that, especially someone you’re close with. When I heard that news, it was definitely pretty sad. I reached out to Coach Saunders, just let him know I was praying for him and that I’m with him and that he’ll get through this. I’ve been in good contact with him and he’s fighting it. He’s in good spirits and he’ll definitely get through this and still be a part of this team and this organization in a big way like he has been. He’s doing good. I’m still praying for him and hoping he can knock this off quickly.
On gearing up for his first professional season: I don’t really know what’s ahead of me. They say it’s a long year and it’s definitely very different. But we have a good group of guys, veterans especially that we can lean on and go to and learn a lot from. So I’m looking forward to it.
On his relationship with interim head coach Sam Mitchell: We’ve built a strong relationship and it will only continue to grow now with him stepping into the head coach role as the season gets started. He’s been around the gym every day just like I have. We’re just trying to build our relationship and go from there.
On the outlook this season for the Wolves: The goal is to make the playoffs this year. I think that’s been very understood. That’s our goal as a team. We have a great balance of young guys and veteran guys mixed with talent. When you’re going into a season, you have to have confidence and be willing to put in the work. That’s what we’re going to do. The goal is to make the playoffs and try to make a playoff run, try to turn things around from last year. It starts up in a couple of weeks and we’ll be ready to go.