MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota-native Tyus Jones was named Most Outstanding Player in Duke’s NCAA Championship win Monday night.
“This is just such a special group and the best team that I’ve ever been a part of,” Jones said. “We’ve worked hard all year and this was the one goal we’ve been working for, no matter if it was getting up extra shots, or extra running, trying to get in better shape or tough practices, just believing in one another.”
There were 16 lead changes in the title game, but in the end, Duke came back to beat the Wisconsin Badgers 68-63, marking the Blue Devils’ fifth national championship.
Jones was a starting varsity point guard from the time he was in eighth grade. He helped lead reigning state high school champs Apple Valley to its first championship in 2013.
He was the most coveted high school point guard in the country when he selected Duke. He said it was the right fit and he felt he would be able to succeed there. He said the process of choosing a college was “extremely stressful.”
He had been in talks with the University of Minnesota and other schools for years.
After Duke won the championship Monday and he was named the most outstanding player, he was asked how he handled the national spotlight.
“My teammates and the coaching staff, they have given me confidence and they believed in me and trusted in me all year,” he said. “There has never been a moment where they doubted me. They trusted me to make a play and that’s the biggest thing about this team. We never want to let one another down.”
Many wonder if the 18-year-old from Burnsville will turn pro or try to win another NCAA title next year. If the 6-foot, 1-inch point guard does decide to enter the NBA draft, he might be a first-round pick.
Furthermore, there may be a family legacy here. Younger brother Tre Jones was a freshman starting point guard for Apple Valley this year. Last month, he helped his high school team win its second state title in three years.
Duke has a victory party planned at the school’s Durham, North Carolina campus Tuesday afternoon.