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Jordan Brand Classic: Duke commit Luke Kennard responds to Tyus Jones’ departure

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NEW YORK – On Wednesday morning, Tyus Jones, the Final Four Most Outstanding Player, joined Justise Winslow and Jahlil Okafor, becoming the third Duke freshman to enter his name into this year’s NBA draft.

In light of the news of Jones’ decision, lone Jordan Brand Classic Duke commit Luke Kennard, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Franklin, Ohio, was repeatedly asked to address the state of the post-champion Blue Devils, whose key components have been stripped down and shipped to the NBA.

Kennard, who made waves earlier this season by passing LeBron James on Ohio’s all-time scoring list, acknowledged that, prior to the season, he assumed Okafor would likely be NBA-bound regardless of the season’s result. He also stated Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski explained that, when it came to Jones and Winslow’s respective futures, the determining factor would be their late-season performances.

Even with the idea of all three breakout freshman catching the early train to the NBA firmly implanted in the back of his mind, Kennard made it clear it was still a pill he had to choke down.

“It kind of stinks that they’re leaving, they’re great players,” Kennard said. “I played with Justise and Tyus on the USA Team, U-18, this past summer. It’s going to be tough but we’re ready to come in and just play good and prove [ourselves].”

The departure of Jones leaves Duke currently without a point guard to their name, just a season after playing with two — Jones and senior Quinn Cook — in their starting lineup. With the tarp officially being torn off that gaping hole, Krzyzewski is currently trying to convince either, or both, of 2016 targets Derryck Thornton and Jamal Murray, to reclassify and join Duke a year early.

However, if those plans end up fizzling, Kennard may be the Blue Devils’ fall back to run the offense next season. Kennard, who played some point in AAU, as well as high school, told SNY.tv that assistant coach Jon Scheyer reached out to him and told him to, “keep working on that ball-handling,” because they may need it sooner rather than later.

If anyone knows about converted point guards, it’s Scheyer. After playing off the ball his first three years at Duke, Scheyer moved to the point in the midst of his senior season and led the Blue Devils to their fourth national title.

Kennard also admitted that, even though his sales pitch may not be as polished as Kryzyewski’s, he’s been doing some recruiting of his own. And while his efforts to lure Caleb Swanigan to Durham proved futile, Kennard said him and fellow Duke commit — as well as future roommate — Chase Jeter have been “going hard” at Brandon Ingram about joining them next season.

Ingram, ranked by Rivals as the No. 19 overall player in the 2015 class, would be a tremendous signing for Duke, but, as a small forward, he would not be the answer to their point guard woes.

While the final recruiting picture remains blurry, one thing is for sure: whether it’s from the two, off the bench, or as the starting point guard, Duke will need some major contributions from Kennard, along with the rest of their incoming class.

Duke’s Tyus Jones becomes third Blue Devil to enter the NBA Draft


Duke announced on Wednesday morning that Tyus Jones will be entering his name into the 2015 NBA draft.

Jones averaged 11.8 points, 5.6 assists, 3.5 boards and 1.5 steals this season, earning Final Four Most Outstanding Player as Duke won the national title.

“Coming to Duke was a dream of mine and being a part of such a special team was amazing,” said Jones. “I knew coming in I would be a part of a great team, but I never envisioned I would be a part of such an incredible family. That is what has made winning a national championship such an amazing experience. I am faced with the tough decision of returning to a place I love or pursuing my next dream. With the support and guidance of my family, my coaches, my teammates, and Duke University, I have decided to start my professional career. Even though I am entering the NBA Draft, I will forever be a Duke Blue Devil.”

Jones is the third Duke freshmen to enter the NBA Draft this month, as Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow both already announced their intentions to leave for the NBA. Grayson Allen said that he will be returning to school for his sophomore season.

Jones is projected as the No. 21 pick, according to Draft Express.

His decision puts the Blue Devils in a tough spot next season as they currently do not have a point guard on their roster. They’re in a position where they will have to try to land a fifth-year transfer or try to convince elite 2016 point guard target Derryck Thornton to reclassify and enroll this summer.

Duke’s Tyus Jones helps Kevin Garnett with first pitch at Minnesota Twins home opener (VIDEO)

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Duke freshman point guard Tyus Jones is still riding high off of his national championship and Most Outstanding Player award from the 2015 NCAA tournament.

On Monday, the native of Apple Valley, Minnesota helped deliver the ball for the ceremonial first pitch out to Minnesota Timberwolves veteran Kevin Garnett before the Twins’ home opener against the Kansas City Royals.

Jones is still weighing his options for next season as he decides whether to enter the NBA Draft or stay in school. Regardless of his future, this is a cool moment for Jones in his home state.

(H/T: The Cauldron)