Duke freshman point guard Tyus Jones is off to the NBA draft, as he announced in a statement released through the school. The 18-year-old, who turns 19 next month, is projected to join Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow as members of the national champion Blue Devils to be drafted in the first round this year. Jones is the 21st-best prospect on Jonathan Givony’s DraftExpress board, while Chad Ford of ESPN.com has him 23rd.
Jones had been “proceeding toward plans” to enter this year’s draft last week as he arranged meetings with agents, as Shams Charania of RealGM reported then. NBA personnel who spoke recently with Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com thought leaving school this year would be a wise decision for the point guard, believing his stock wouldn’t go any higher with another year at Duke. The Pistons, Pelicans, Sixers, Magic and Rockets have been among the NBA teams doing the most research into the Minnesota native so far, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
It’ll take a while for Jones to develop on the NBA level, but he’s capable of rewarding a patient team that drafts him in the middle of the first round, as Eddie Scarito of Hoops Rumors wrote as he ranked Jones 20th in our latest Draft Prospect Power Rankings. Jones averaged 13.9 points in 33.9 minutes per game, and he nearly had a three-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio, putting up 6.6 assists and 2.3 turnovers per contest. He recorded only one assist in the national championship game, but his game-high 23 points helped him earn the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player award.