Tyus Robert Jones was born May 10, 1996. He played college basketball for the Duke Blue Devils men's basketball team for his freshman season as part of the 2014-15 National Championship team. He was ranked among the top 10 players in the national high school class of 2014 by Rivals.com, Scout.com, and ESPN. He was a Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) Class 4A state champion, three-time Minnesota Associated Press Boys Basketball Player of the Year and three-time Minnesota Boys Basketball Gatorade Player of the Year for Apple Valley High School. He played in the 2014 McDonald's All-American Boys Game, 2014 Jordan Brand Classic and the 2014 Nike Hoop Summit. He won the skills competition at the 2014 McDonald's All-American Game and posted the only double-double in the 2014 Jordan Brand Classic.
He committed to the Duke University men's basketball team as a package with Jahlil Okafor. He was a 2014 USA Today second team All-USA Boys Basketball Team selection. At Duke, he was an All-ACC third team and All-ACC Freshman first team selection. He earned NCAA Basketball Tournament Most Outstanding Player during Duke's victory in the championship game of the 2015 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. Subsequently, he announced he would enter the 2015 NBA Draft. He was selected with the 24th overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers and traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Jones earned the role as a varsity starter for Apple Valley as an eighth grader for the 2009-10 season. That year, he averaged 16.8 points and 8.1 assists per game, starting every game for a team that went 20-8. That season he received his first recruiting letter (at age 13) from USC.
As a freshman, he received his first scholarship offer: from Iowa. That season, he averaged 20.1 points, 7.1 assists, and 2.6 steals per game in 16 games, after missing 7 weeks due to a lacerated kidney. Following his freshman season, he was invited to attend separate skills camps hosted by LeBron James and Chris Paul. However, he was also invited by USA Basketball to the United State Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado to be one of 27 athletes try out for the 12-man FIBA Americas Under-16 Championship team, which he eventually was selected to. Team USA won the tournament. By the time he attended the July 2011 Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Peach Jam Tournament he already had offers from Minnesota and Baylor. In the days after the four-day tournament that was attended by leading coaches such as Thad Matta, Tom Izzo, Jim Boheim, Roy Williams, John Caliper, Josh Pastner, Bill Self, Sean Miller, and Rick Pitino, he received offers from Ohio State, Michigan State, Marquette, Providence, Arizona, and Iowa State.
As a sophomore he was a unanimous selection as the 2012 Minnesota Associated Press Player of the Year for high school boys basketball and was named to the 2012 Associated Press All-State team along with Siyani Chambers, Joey King, Tyler Vaughan, and Johnny Woodard. Jones' Apple Valley team was eliminated in the MSHSL Class 4A, Section 3 final by Eastview High School. Jones averaged 28 points and 8 assists in 31 minutes per game. He earned the 2012 Minnesota Boys Basketball Gatorade Player of the Year award. He was the 2012 Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year in boys' basketball as well as the Pioneer Press' boys basketball player of the year. By the end of his sophomore season, he had an offer from Duke to go along with his earlier offers from Minnesota, Iowa State, Michigan, Ohio State, Providence, Arizona, Baylor, and Marquette. Following the season, Jones again played for Team USA at the 2012 FIBA Under-17 World Championship in Kaunas, Lithuania from June 29- July 8, 2012. The team went undefeated in 8 games.
Jones entered his 2012-13 junior season as the national class of 2014's top ranked basketball player according to ESPN. Sports Illustrated columnist Frank Burlison listed him second to Jahlil Okafor on August 16, 2012. On September 11, when Okafor was named a monthly blogger for USA Today High School Sports, he noted that he and Jones wanted to attend a Michigan State Spartans football game together. Jones was on of 10 USA Today preseason All-USA selections (along with Aaron Gordon, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Kasey Hill, Okafor, Parker, Julius Randle, Noah Vonleh, and Andrew Wiggins). At the January 5, 2013, Timberwolves Shootout at the Target Center, Jones led Apple Valley on a 31-9 run to overcome an 11-point deficit with 9 minutes and 19 seconds remaining against Rashad Vaughn (now of the Milwaukee Bucks) and Robbinsdale Copper High School. The head-to-head matchup of class of 2014 guards Jones and Vaughn was described as "arguably the best individual-to-individual matchup in Minnesota high school basketball history" by the Star Tribune. Two weeks before the matchup of ESPN 100 top 10 high school player, NBA.com had anticipated the matchup with a feature story. Following his junior season, he was co-winner of the Minnesota Associated Press Player of the Year award for high school boys basketball, with DeLaSalle fellow junior Reid Travis. Jones led Apple Valley to the MSHSL Class 4A championship, while Travis led DeLaSalle to the 3A championship. They were joined on the Associated Press All-State team by Andres Broman, Rashad Vaughn, and Graham Woodward. Jones earned the 2013 Minnesota Boys Basketball Gatorade Player of the Year and the Pioneer Press player of the year. However, Travis was the 2013 Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year in boys' basketball. Following the season, Jones was selected by HighSchoolHardwood.com as one of two juniors (along with Okafor) on its first or second five selections of its 2012-13 High School Hardwood All-American teams. Stanley Johnson was the only other junior on the 20-man All-American First Team.
On March 9th, Jones listed his final seven schools: Baylor, Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan State, Minnesota, and Ohio State. Jones had unofficially visited all seven of these schools before his junior season ended. In late April 2013, Okafor's father believed it was very possible that Okafor and Jones would matriculate together as a package. By late April, there were rumors that Cliff Alexander and Justise Winslow would attend whatever school Jones and Okafor attended.
On May 30, Okafor cut his list of schools to eight: Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan State, and Ohio State, which overlapped with Jones in six schools. Although Alexander was ranked as the fifth best player in the class of 2014 by Rivals.com and had offers from four of the six schools common to both by the beginning of June, he said the chances of him matriculating with Jones and Okafor was slim. As the summer evaluation period continued, the unique nature of the possibility of Okafor and Jones, who are not related and not teammates, going to college as a package continued to get a lot of press. Jones was co-MVP for the 2013 Under Armour Elite 24 All-Star game's winning team. On August 13, Jones announced that he would take official visits to four schools: Baylor August 30-Septebmer 1; Kentucky September 27-29; Kansas October 18-20; and Duke October 25-27. Notably Duke, which is the favorite according to Star Tribune writer Amelia Rayno, is scheduled last. On August 14, Jones confirmed that he might make a fifth official visit (the maximum allowed by the NCAA) to Minnesota, although they remained an unlikely underdog. Okafor visited Baylor on August 29 with Jones as the two were ranked 1-2 in Rivals.com class of 2014 rankings. One of the reasons Baylor was a serious contender is that Jared Nuness, a member of the Baylor basketball staff, is Jones' cousin.
On September 4, 2013, Rivals.com updated their ranking with Jones slipped from 2nd to 5th (behind Emmanuel Mudiay, Johnson, and Alexander) and the top point guard position to second (behind Mudiay). Rivals clarified that Okafor and Jones, who are considered a package deal, had visited Baylor together and would visit both Kansas and Duke together, but they would visit Kentucky separately. On September 13, class of 2014 point guard Tyler Ulis committed to Kentucky. Subsequently, Jones cancelled his September 27-29 visit to Kentucky. As Okafor and Jones visited Kansas and Duke together during the last two weekends of October, those two schools were considered the favorites for the services of both. At Kansas, head coach Bill Self scheduled a second open practice for the weekend of the Okafor/Jones visit. ESPN.com's number 14 overall prospect Winslow attended Duke for an official visit the same weekend that Okafor and Jones did. At the beginning of October, rumors began that Jones and Okafor would meet in a nationally televised game on December 12 that could be the first regular season high school basketball game ever broadcast on ESPN from Minnesota. On November 15, ESPN announced the high school basketball broadcast schedule for its family of networks and the rumors were verified. On November 2, Jones reduced his list to Baylor, Kansas, and Duke and was still committed to joint matriculation with Okafor.
On November 7th Jones was ranked fifth behind points leader Mudiay, Alexander, Okafor, and Stanley Johnson in the Mr. Basketball USA preseason tracker. He had the most points of all players without any first place votes. The preseason points leader has gone on to win the award in four of the prior five years. On November 11, Jones and Okafor tweeted simutaneously that they would make simultaneous verbal commitments on November 15th from their local high schools. His verbal commitment announcement was scheduled on the same date as Alexander and Stanley Johnson. According to ESPN, all four were among the top 10 in the national class (Okafor #1, Alexander #3, Jones #4, and Johnson #9). On the eve of their announcement, Duke was the heavy favorite to land Jones and Okafor. He made his verbal commitment on ESPNU to Duke basketball on November 15th. Prior to his senior season, USA Today named him to the 10-man preseason All-USA team along with Alexander, Stanley Johnson, Trey Lyles, Mudiay, Malik Newman, Okafor, Kelly Oubre, D'Angelo Russell, and Myles Turner. On November 21st, Winslow committed to Duke, giving them the number one recruiting class in the nation with Jones, Okafor, Winslow, and Grayson Allen all committed.
On December 12, Apple Valley had a 5-0 record (including victories over state powerhouses DeLaSalle--with a sidelined Reid Travis--and Hopkins) and national rankings of 41 by USA Today and 16 by MaxPreps, while Whitney Young entered the game 1-1 with a 34 ranking. That day, in front of Mike Krzyzewski and ESPN2's national audience, Okafor's Whitney Young beat Jones' Apple Valley 80-70. Okafor had 22 points and 15 rebounds, while Jones had 29 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists. On January 4 in the Timberwolves Shootout at the Target Center, Jones led Apple Valley over the Kansas defending Class 6A champion Blue Valley High School who ranked number 18 by USA Today at the time. On March 6, 2014, defending state champion Apple Valley lost to Cretin-Derham Hall High School 89-77 in double overtime in the Class 4A Section 3 championship despite 35 points from Jones, ending his high school career.
Jones won the skills competition at the McDonald's All-American Game on March 31. In the April 2, 2014, McDonald's All-American Game Jones posted 7 points and a game-high 10 assists for the losing east team. 5 of the 7 points came in the final two minutes as the East briefly recovered the lead from a 99-95 deficit before losing 105-102. On April 12, he posted 13 points, 6 assists, and 5 steals in a 84-73 Team USA Nike Hoops Summit victory over the world team. On April 18 in the Jordan Brand Classic, he posted the only double-double with 10 points, a game-high 12 assists and 7 rebounds.
Jones was selected to the 10-man Team USA for the 17th annual Nike Hoop Summit on April 12, 2014 at the Moda Center. He was selected along with fellow Duke commits Okafor and Winslow and the 24-player 37th annual April 2, 2014 McDonald's All-American Boys Game at the United Center. He was joined as a McDonald's All-American by fellow Minnesotans Travis and Vaughn as well as fellow Duke commits Okafor, Winslow, and Grayson Allen. On March 10 he was one of 26 player selected for the April 18, 2014 Jordan Brand Classic again along with fellow Minnesotans Travis and Vaughn as well as fellow Duke commits Okaofr, Winslow, and Allen. On March 17, he won Associated Press Co-Player of the Year (with J.P. Maura). On March 18, he was named as one of three finalists for the McDonald's All-American Morgan Wootten National Player of the Year (along with Stanley Johnson and Cliff Alexander). On March 20, Jones was named Minnesota Mr. Basketball. The following day he won his third consecutive Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year Award. He was a 2014 USA Today second team All-USA Boys Basketball Team selection and a second team All-American according to MaxPreps.
By the summer after his 2010-11 freshman season, he was described as the best point guard from the state of Minnesota since Khalid El-Amin. Another Minnesotan who is a measuring stick for Jones is Sam Jacobson. According to Bleacher Report's Kerry Miller, when he plays for Duke, Jones is likely to finish among the top 5 in the nation in assists per game but may need to work on his defense.
As he entered his freshman season at Duke, he was expected to battle with senior point guard Quinn Cook and junior guard Rasheed Sulaimon for playing time following the graduation of Tyler Thornton. Well before the season there were expectations that Jones would win the starting point guard position. Thus, he was selected by USA Today to its Preseason All-American second team and by CBS Sports to its Preseason All-American third team. In its preseason top 100 player ranking. Jones was listed at number 45 by ESPN. Jones was named to the 36-man Bob Cousy Award Preseason Watch List. He was also listed as a John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 candidate and a Wayman Tisdale Award Watch List selection. Jones was also included in the early December Naismith Award Top 50 watch list.
Jones began the season starting alongside Cook, with Sulaimon coming off the bench. On November 14, he debuted with 15 points and 7 assists against Presbyterian. He posted 17 points against #19 Michigan State on November 18 in the 2014 State Farm Champions Classic. On November 30, Jones posted a season-high 10 assists along with 16 points for his first career double-double against Army. In the ACC-Big Ten Challenge against #2 Wisconsin, Jones led the way to an 80-70 victory with 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists, which were all team highs. For his performance, Jones earned ACC Rookie of the week and the Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week award. He was named to the John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 list on January 14. Jones tied his career-high on January 19 with 22 points against Pittsburgh in Mike Krzyzewski's 999th career victory, and on January 25 he also had 22 points against St. John's in Krzyzewski's 1000th career victory. As a result of these two performances, Jones earned ACC co-rookie of the Week honors along with Xavier Rathan-Mayes. Jones posted a season-high tying and game-high tying 22 points as well as 8 assists against North Carolina in his first Carolina-Duke rivalry game on February 18. He scored the team's final nine points in the final 1:25 of regulation to force overtime and became the first player in the rivalry to tally 22 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds since assists became official stats in 1983-84. As a result he earned his fourth ACC Freshman of the Week honor after a week that included a new career-high with 24 points in a rematch against North Carolina on March 7. Following the 2014-15 Atlantic Coast Conference men's basketball season, Jones was named to the All-ACC third team and was among a trio that was the first to be selected to the All-ACC Freshman first team (along with Okafor and Winslow). He was also recognized by the Associated Press as an honorable mention selection for its All-America team. He earned NCAA Basketball Tournament Most Outstanding Player by scoring 23 points with 5 rebounds in the championship game of the 2015 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament.
On April 15, 2015, Jones announced he was ending his college career to enter the 2015 NBA Draft. He was selected with the 24th overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers, who then traded his draft rights to his hometown team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, in exchange for a 2019 second round pick and the draft rights to the 31st and 36th picks in the draft, Cedi Osman and Rakeem Christmas, respectively. On July 7, 2015, he signed his rookie scale contract with the Timberwolves.
Jones started in the preseason opener when Ricky Rubio was sidelined, but did not fare well against Russell Westbrook, going scoreless and nearly giving up a triple double. Jones began the season fourth on the Timberwolves' depth chart at point guard (behind Rubio, Zach LaVine, and Andre Miller) and was inactive for the October 28th season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers. Jones was active for the first time on November 7 when Kevin Martin had to be away from the team for a game against the Chicago Bulls. Two games later on November 10, he was active again when three starters were sidelined, including Rubio who was scratched from the lineup right before tipoff. He made his debut that night against the Charlotte Hornets, posting his first assist, steal, rebound, and point. On December 5, using the flexible assignment rule, the Timberwolves assigned Jones to the Idaho Stampede, the D-League affiliate of the Utah Jazz. On December 22, he was recalled by the Timberwolves after he averaged 24.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 1.5 steals in 35.2 minutes per game in six starts in the D-League. He made his first NBA field goals on December 23 against the San Antonio Spurs, scoring 6 points in 20 minutes. Jones didn't play in 17 consecutive games (since January 4th) and then had a season-high 5 assists on February 8 against the New Orleans Pelicans. By late February, head coach Sam Mitchell noted that Jones would be getting sufficient playing time to be evaluated. He achieved a career-high on February 22 with 9 points on 4-of-7 shooting against the Boston Celtics. On February 28, he posted 6 assists against the Dallas Mavericks. Jones posted 6 assists and 10 points against the Spurs on March 8th. On April 7th, Jones tallied 4 steals against the Sacramento Kings. On April 13, he closed out the season with a 12-assist effort against the New Orleans Pelicans.
During the 2016 NBA Summer League, Jones was named MVP of the league. He led Minnesota to four consecutive wins during the tournament to advance to the NBA Summer League's Championship game after losing the opening three games in Las Vegas. In seven games in Las Vegas, Jones averaged 19.4 points on 45.7 percent shooting to go with 6.3 assist, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game. Nonetheless he began the season behind Rubio and rookie Kris Dunn on the depth chart. He made his season debut on November 1st with 6 assists in the Timberwolves' third game against Memphis when Rubio was lost indefinitely to a sprained elbow. On November 8, Jones posted career-highs with 12 points and 5 steals as well as a career-high tying 5 rebounds to go along with a game-high 7 assists against the Brooklyn Nets. When Rubio did not play in the April 12, 2017 regular season finale against the Houston Rockets, Timberwolves point guards Kris Dunn and Jones both set new career highs with 16 assists and 17 points, respectively.