Another Duke freshman is headed to the NBA. Earlier this morning, point guard Tyus Jones chose to forgo his sophomore season and declared for the draft.
ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported the decision.
Jones becomes the third Duke freshman to declare this year, joining teammates Justise Winslow and Jahlil Okafor. In announcing his decision, he reflected on his incredible season with nothing but positivity.
“Coming to Duke was a dream of mine and being a part of such a special team was amazing,” said Jones in a statement. “I knew coming in I would be a part of a great team, but I never envisioned I would be a part of such an incredible family. That is what has made winning a national championship such an amazing experience. I am faced with the tough decision of returning to a place I love or pursuing my next dream.
“With the support and guidance of my family, my coaches, my teammates, and Duke University, I have decided to start my professional career. Even though I am entering the NBA Draft, I will forever be a Duke Blue Devil.”
Such a decision could not come at a better time for Winslow, who averaged 11.8 points and 5.6 assists per game in his freshman season. He also managed 1.5 steals per game and shot just under 42 percent from the field while making 38 percent of his threes, gaining a reputation as a tough slashing guard as he helped the Blue Devils win their fifth championship under Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski.
At the tournament’s end, he was named Most Outstanding Player, having averaged 13 points and 4.5 assists in the big dance while shooting 42.2 percent from the floor.
In terms of where Jones will go in the draft, that remains to be seen.
ESPN’s Chad Ford has him at No. 23 on his latest Big Board, and DraftExpress currently projects him as a late first round pick. That can be attributed to him being on the smaller side at just 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, and not being particularly explosive or athletic. No matter where he goes in the draft, it’s going to take him some time to adjust as he is matched up with larger and better athletes at his position.
But that doesn’t take away from the fact that Jones is, easily, one of the most dynamic players in this year’s draft class who will put the team on his back without hesitation.
This young man lives to win and as draft day draws closer, his stock is one to watch like a hawk.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports