MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On Saturday, four teams face off in San Antonio for one of the biggest events in sports — the Final Four.
A few years ago, an Apple Valley kid took his team all the way there, won it and was named MVP — his name was Tyus Jones. Next year, the Final Four comes to Minneapolis, and Tre Jones could very well follow in his brother’s footsteps.
On a Minnesota winter day, they gather at a McDonalds — not unusual for a high school basketball team. But on this day they are there not for a burger, but an event. Tre Jones has been named to the prestigous McDonald’s All-American team.
“It’s a blessing to be able to be awarded with this achievement of mine,” he said.
This is a rare opportunity to reflect on what has been — a blessed career that started with a family.
“Both my parents played, my entire family played. Then, just growing up, both my brothers played. My oldest brother is 14 years older than me,” Tre said.
That’s what happens when your the third brother — behind a guy named Tyus Jones, who redefined the game at Apple Valley.
“When Tyus kind of burst onto the scene as an 8th grader, it took us all by storm,” Apple Valley basketball coach Zach Goring said. “We were showing up at packed gyms just to see this 8th grade kid play.”
Then there is the other Jones brother — Jadee was himself quite a college basketball player. He’s now the assistant coach at Apple Valley, but he’s so much more.
“He’s meant a lot,” Tyus said. “He’s someone who’s been my trainer since 8th grade, so he’s been Tre’s trainer since 4th, 5th grade.”
That means he’s played an even bigger part in Tre’s success.
“He’s played a huge role in my life, on and off the court,” he said. “He’s a great role model for me — older brother, someone I look up to, for sure. Whenever I need him, he’s there for me.”
Jadee is the wind beneath these Apple Valley Eagles’ dreams.
“I see film from a year ago, or whatever it is and that’s when I realize how much better they consistently get,” Jadee said. “I think for the both of them, that’s what’s separated them from everyone else, is that they’ve always continued to improve.”
Tre will follow Tyus in a different way — to Duke, where in just one season, Tyus helped lead the Blue Devils to a national title. He was the MVP of the Final Four.
It’s a competition that will be soon be his brother’s goal.
“It was an amazing, amazing experience — something that I’ll never forget, once in a lifetime,” Tyus said. “I know for him, just to be able to play in a Final Four, wherever it is, means the world to anybody. And for it to be back home in Minnesota next year, that would put the cherry on top.”
That’s exactly the next goal — to come back and play in Minnesota next year at U.S. Bank Stadium, for the Final Four.
“A few years ago when he was in the national championship, I was there supporting him,” Tre said. “So that’s always a big dream of yours, but when you get to go and experience it just as a fan, it’s even bigger than what you really think it is. So that’s a huge dream of mine and hopefully we’ll be able to achieve that next year.”
He’d like to follow Tyus after that, to the NBA. That’s what you’re allowed to do in this family — dream big.
“It’s time for Tre to move on, and obviously we’d love for him to be just a junior, but he needs new challenges,” Goring said. “He’s been with us for five years, and it was a treat watching Tyus play for Duke and Gary Trent right now, too. We’re getting a kick out of that, and Duke can’t wait to get Tre down there.”
Tre duplicated what Tyus did this week, winning the Mr. Basketball award for the best high school player in the state. It’s a fitting end to an Apple Valley era — one built on winning and success, and now filled with memories of some of the best times
they will ever have playing basketball.
“I remember winning state, but then also remembering just memories that I made with my teammates and coaching staff over the years,” Tre said.