Tre Jones is in the pipeline to Duke

Point guard following two Apple Valley teammates to Blue Devils

Tre Jones begins celebrating as the final seconds run out in Apple Valley’s 60-54 victory over Champlin Park in the Class 4A boys basketball final. Photo by Mike Shaughnessy

For the third time, Duke University has successfully recruited a player who was instrumental in Apple Valley’s rise as a Minnesota high school basketball power.

The latest Eagle headed to Durham, North Carolina, is incoming senior point guard Tre Jones, who helped Apple Valley win two state Class 4A championships in the last three years. Jones’ brother Tyus played the 2014-15 season at Duke, helping the Blue Devils win the national championship, then turned pro and now is a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Shooting guard Gary Trent Jr., Tre Jones’ teammate on the Apple Valley varsity for three seasons, will join the Blue Devils this fall.

Tre Jones verbally committed to Duke during a gathering Sunday at Cedar Valley Church in Bloomington. The presentation included a video that showed Tyus Jones, wearing a Duke basketball shirt, passing the ball to Tre Jones on a court with the Duke logo at the center jump circle. He can sign a National Letter of Intent, making the agreement to attend Duke official, in early November.

Tre Jones had narrowed his list of finalists to six schools, including Minnesota, but his choice of Duke is not a surprise considering the relationship Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski cultivated with the Jones family going back to when he was recruiting Tyus. Krzyzewski offered Tre Jones a scholarship almost two years ago.

“He’s talked about everything with me, not just basketball,” Jones said Monday afternoon. “Mostly about things I’ll be dealing with in life. We formed a bond. One of the first big moments in my career was when he offered me a scholarship while I was a still sophomore in high school. He had a vision for me.”

Zach Goring, Apple Valley’s head coach during Tre and Tyus Jones’ recruitment, said the process played out similarly for each player.

“We had coaches of a lot of high-major programs come through for open gym and practices with Tre, just as we did for Tyus,” Goring said. “The one difference is, Tre decided in the middle of the summer and Tyus didn’t commit until November. That means we had a lot of coaches coming through in the fall of Tyus’ senior year.”

Tre Jones said there was no push for him to make an announcement now, almost three months before he can sign, other than “I knew where I wanted to go. It wasn’t that I needed to get it out of the way, but I didn’t want to drag it out.”

Ohio State, Oregon, UCLA and USC were Jones’ other finalists, along with Minnesota. Daniel Oturu, Jarvis Thomas and Gabe Kalscheur, three players from Jones’ AAU team, the Howard Pulley Panthers, recently committed to Minnesota, leading to speculation that the Gophers might also have a chance to land Jones. But it appears that was never realistic. Jones complimented the Minnesota program but didn’t say the Gophers were No. 2 on his list.

“I liked all the schools that recruited me,” he said.

Jones joined the Apple Valley varsity as an eighth-grader in 2013-14, which was his brother’s senior year with the Eagles. He became a starter the following year and helped Apple Valley win its second Class 4A championship. In the summer of 2015, he and Trent played for a USA Basketball team that won the FIBA Americas tournament.

With Trent moving on to a prep school for the 2016-17 season, Apple Valley became Jones’ team to lead, and he responded in a big way. Previously a pass-first point guard, Jones took on more of the scoring load and led the Eagles with a 23.4 average. He also was Apple Valley’s top rebounder with 10.1 per game. He had 7.5 assists per game. It’s highly unusual for a point guard to lead his team in blocks, but Jones did that, too. He had seven triple-doubles last season, including one in the state Class 4A semifinals against Maple Grove.

He had 24 points and 18 rebounds in the Eagles’ 60-54 victory over Champlin Park in the state final, a game that also featured the 2017 Mr. Basketball Award winner, the Rebels’ McKinley Wright.

A strong spring and summer for his AAU team sent Jones rocketing up the scouting rankings for the Class of 2018. He now is regarded as the top point guard in his class and was ranked seventh among all players by Scout.com.

He still wants to get better. Most days this summer when he’s been home, he’s been put through a weightlifting program by his older brother Jadee, an Apple Valley assistant basketball coach. In the afternoon, the three Jones brothers took to the court – often at Apple Valley High School – to help Tre further refine his skills.

“He will go into Duke ready to lead that team, if that’s what they need,” Goring said. “If Duke has a lot of young players, which probably will be the case because they’ve had a lot of one-and-dones, he’ll be able to play right away. He will be ready to defend, ready to lead. He’s working on his three-point shooting, but his pull-up jumper from the lane is as good as anyone’s.”

Jones said he and Krzyzewski have talked about his basketball skill development “a little bit. He wants me to work on all aspects of my game so I will be a well-rounded player when I get there. I’ll keep working on my offense, especially my jump shot, so I can score when my team needs me to score.”

Apple Valley likely will be ranked first in Class 4A at the start of the 2017-18 season, and “our goal is another state championship,” Jones said. “That would be a great way to go out.”

Goring agreed.

“I think his goal is to finish what he started,” the coach said. “He was on a state championship team as a ninth-grader and had a great season last year to help us win another one. He wants to go out on top, win another state title, win Mr. Basketball and be known as one of the best players to ever come out of Minnesota.”