Tre Jones reflects on whirlwind — from abrupt end at Duke to NBA draft uncertainty

If these were more ordinary times, Duke point guard Tre Jones might have been spending Friday afternoon preparing with his teammates for a game in the NCAA tournament Sweet 16 later that evening.

Instead, he was meeting with media members on a video conference call to discuss his time as a Blue Devil and his decision to enter the NBA draft, his sophomore year cut short along with the rest of the college basketball season.

For now, Jones is back in the Minneapolis area with his family. He’s finishing his classes online and working out with his brother, former Final Four MVP Tyus Jones, hoping to be ready for the NBA selection process – whenever it may happen. He said he and his fellow Blue Devils still communicate regularly via group chats.

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Duke's Tre Jones averaged 16.2 points per game during his sophomore season. (Photo: Rob Kinnan, USA TODAY Sports)

“It’s weird how quick it ended and how abrupt it was,” he said. “It’s hard for us to process. We thought we’d be able to stick around campus and work out a little bit, but then they had to send everyone home. It was just quick goodbyes. It still doesn’t seem real. Life isn’t really going on at this point. But the way the whole team reacted definitely brought us closer together. We all saw how much we wanted it as a group and how we were in a good position in March.”

Jones averaged 16.2 points and 6.4 assists and was named the ACC player of the year and defensive player of the year, leading the Blue Devils to a 25-6 overall record and a final No. 8 ranking in the USA TODAY Sports coaches poll. He scored 21 points and handed out 11 dimes in an 89-76 win against archrival North Carolina in what would turn out to be his final game in a Duke uniform.

Though the chance to defend Duke’s ACC tournament title from last year and play in the NCAA tournament never materialized, Jones said he felt like he’d accomplished a couple of his key objectives by returning to Durham for his sophomore season. “Being a vocal leader is something I grew a lot in this year, and I think I showed I could shoot the ball a lot better than I did last year,” he said.

A number of draft prognosticators have Jones projected as a late first-round or early second-round pick. But the league’s own evaluation process, along with everything else, is on hold right now amid the nationwide coronavirus shutdown.

“I haven’t gotten any feedback yet,” Jones said. “No one really knows what’s happening at the NBA, either. We’re all just waiting and trying to be patient.”

Meanwhile, he’s making the most of his family time. “I think we’ve all seen that now,” he said. “It’s been a valuable time to be with the people closest to you. We just have to trust the process and be as ready as we can be when we get over this as a country and as a world.”

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