Since high school, Tyus Jones has been recruited highly. He was the top point guard prospect in his class and a McDonald's All-American. Now, he is taking the next step and making the leap from college standout to NBA player.
Chad Ford recently tweeted that he expects Jones to fall somewhere between pick 17 and pick 23. According to realgm.com, NBA executives believe that Jones's draft stock is as high as it will get -- that was almost definitely a factor in his decision to declare.
In Jones's single season at Duke, the freshman averaged 11.82 points per game and 5.56 assists per game. Those numbers aren't particularly eye-popping, but his play certainly is. In the regular season, Jones displayed an ability to score but, like a bad window washer, he was very streaky. Some games he would put up 20+; others, he struggled to find the bottom of the net or make any sort of impact.
Like his teammate Justise Winslow, Jones made a name for himself in the March Madness Tournament. After a disappointing loss to Notre Dame in the ACC Tournament, he scored 10 points, dished 7 assists and nabbed 2 steals en route to a rout of Robert Morris. Big performances against Utah, Gonzaga, Michigan State and Wisconsin helped earn him become the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player and a member of the NCAA Tournament Final Four All-Tournament Team. He also lead all players in assists with 27 assists in six games.
Winning the tournament should also help boost his draft stock, as NBA teams love champion point guards. Shabazz Napier, Trey Burke, Kemba Walker, etc.
As far as physical aspects go, Jones is not a big or athletic point guard. He's measured at 6-1 in height and 190 pounds in weight and he isn't astonishingly quick. However, he is only 18 years old--turning 19 in May--so he has plenty of time to grow, both physically and as a basketball player.
NBADraft.net compares Jones to Trey Burke and Luke Ridnour because of his uncanny feel for the game and ability to be a leader on the court. Trey Burke has yet to show his full potential but Luke Ridnour had some very solid years in Seattle and Minnesota and is not a bad player to be compared to at all.
Should Tyus Jones land somewhere between pick 17 and pick 23, he could end up as a very solid backup point guard on the Bulls, Cavaliers, or Wizards. Do not bet on him playing big minutes his rookie season, unless he gets drafted by a team with little guard depth (i.e. the Philadelphia 76ers). No matter where he gets drafted, Jones will face a learning curve but, in a few years, he could be one of the best point guards to come out of this draft.