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Take of the week: Tre Jones is the most important freshman for Duke men's basketball

<p>Tre Jones can make or break Duke's team this season.</p>

Tre Jones can make or break Duke's team this season.

Every week, the Blue Zone will make a take on Duke sports—whether that take may be hot, cold or lukewarm. This week's take is in from Conner McLeod: 

The Cameron Crazies have a lot to look forward to this season with the addition of five freshmen, all of whom rated near the top of their class. With the departure of former Duke basketball poster-boy Grayson Allen, a new go-to guy must emerge from this year’s team to lead the Blue Devils to victory. While most Duke fans are most excited about the extremely athletic freshman duo of RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson, I believe the key to Duke’s success this year is freshman Tre Jones.

Jones, who was rated as the No. 1 point guard in the class of 2018 by ESPN, was the second freshman to formally commit to the Blue Devils after teammate Cam Reddish committed in early October. Jones has been credited for making a group chat with Reddish, Williamson and Barrett to try and convince the latter of the two to take their talents to Durham. This method was successful in building one of the best recruiting classes of all time, which marked Jones’ first assist as a Blue Devil.

As the younger brother of Tyus Jones, the last starting point guard to win a championship in a Duke jersey, Tre Jones has big shoes to fill as an effective distributor and a shot-caller at the one-guard position. However, Tre’s elite court vision and basketball IQ are some of the main reasons why he received an offer in the first place. As Duke’s three ball-dominant rookies figure out how to share the ball in key in-game situations, Jones will be the one distributing the rock, as the final decision maker on who gets to shoot the last shot. The Blue Devil offense lacked a true pass-first point guard last season, which was a big reason for a disappointing Elite Eight exit. If Jones can run the floor without committing turnovers, something he did well during his time at Countdown to Craziness, he will make it easier on his teammates to perform well in transition and in half-court sets.

Not only can Jones bring a sense of stability to the Blue Devil core as a primary ball handler, but he can also space the floor if he is able to find a consistent shot behind the arc. Whether or not Jones can shoot will impact the rest of the team, as one of the looming questions about this Duke team is if opposing defenses can stack the paint and disregard the three-point line. If Jones can force defending point guards to stick closely with him even without the ball and go over screens in the pick and roll, it will leave a lot of room for Williamson, Barrett and Reddish to work within the paint.

Barrett and Williamson may out-jump and out-run every opponent and Reddish may shoot the lights out, but Jones could be the X-factor in Duke’s goal of winning a sixth NCAA title.


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