Apple Valley boys hoops might get national TV time

ESPN interested in broadcasting game Dec. 12

Tyus Jones and his Apple Valley boys basketball teammates could be featured in a game broadcast by ESPN in December. File photo by Rick Orndorf
Tyus Jones and his Apple Valley boys basketball teammates could be featured in a game broadcast by ESPN in December. File photo by Rick Orndorf

There’s a good chance ESPN will broadcast an Apple Valley High School boys basketball home game in December.

Officials from the network were at the school Monday to evaluate the AVHS gym’s suitability for a broadcast. If it happens, it would be Thursday, Dec. 12, with a tentative starting time of 6 p.m.

“If ESPN asks, ‘Can you hold the date open?’ I think the answer is, ‘Well, sure,’ ” said Apple Valley High School athletics/activities director Pete Buesgens.

The school should find out in the next few weeks if the game will take place. An opponent has not been named, although Buesgens said it was his impression that it would be a team from outside Minnesota.

For several years, ESPN has been broadcasting high school games featuring teams and individuals with a high national profile. Many of these games are aired on ESPN2 or ESPNU.

The network’s interest in Apple Valley is obvious – Tyus Jones, who will be a senior this fall, is ranked by ESPN as the No. 3 college recruit in the Class of 2014 and the No. 1 point guard. He helped lead the Eagles to a 31-1 record in 2012-13 and their first state championship in boys basketball.

Jones averaged 23.3 points, five rebounds and almost six assists in three state tournament games in March. He is playing with the Howard Pulley Panthers AAU team this summer. Recently he scored 41 points in a Howard Pulley Pro-Am League game against a team that included University of Minnesota guard Andre Hollins.

It’s been speculated that Apple Valley’s opponent could be Whitney Young High School in Chicago, which has ESPN’s No. 1-ranked recruit, center Jahlil Okafor. Jones and Okafor were teammates on a USA Basketball team that won the world Under-17 championship last summer and have struck up a friendship. They have talked about going to the same college, but neither has selected a school yet.

Buesgens said he also has heard the speculation about Okafor and Whitney Young High School. “If it happens, it would be a lot of fun,” Buesgens said.

There appear to be no roadblocks in the form of Minnesota State High School League rules. Apple Valley has 24 regular-season games scheduled for far for 2013-14, not including the possible Dec. 12 game. The MSHSL maximum is 26.

MSHSL rules prohibit Minnesota teams from traveling beyond a “bordering state” (North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin) to play a game, but high school teams from other states can come to Minnesota.

If the Dec. 12 game takes place, the network is expected to bring in additional lighting for the broadcast, although Buesgens said ESPN officials found the existing lighting at the AVHS gym to be acceptable. The school would have to conduct an advance ticket sale because demand likely would exceed the capacity of the gym, which Buesgens said seats 2,100 comfortably.

There are other logistical issues, not the least of which is a girls hockey game between Apple Valley and Lakeville North scheduled the same night at the adjacent Apple Valley Sports Arena.

As for moving the basketball game to another location in the Twin Cities, “You can’t play a high school game at a Division I (college) facility, so we couldn’t have it at Williams Arena,” Buesgens said. “And the other college gyms near us don’t have any more seating than we do.

“For me, I want the game at Apple Valley High School. I think we have a great facility and I would love to show it off.”

  • Nate

    Why couldn’t they move it to the Target Center, thats where the State Tourney is held

    • Ryan Coleman

      2100 seats @ Home to over 20,000? That would cost way too much to rent for 1 game – and ESPN would never foot the bill if they couldn’t fill the arena (and there’s almost no way they could).

  • Ryan Coleman

    The Shoe actually lists at 2250 and I think the firecode is for 2500.