When Tre Jones went down Jan. 14 against Syracuse, Cameron Indoor Stadium fell silent as many feared Duke's heart and soul could be lost for the season.
No one would have expected he'd return less than two weeks later.
Jones will start Saturday's game against Georgia Tech, after the team announced Friday in tweet that the freshman was “probable” to return to action. The five-star guard hit the floor hard after colliding with Frank Howard in the first half against the Orange. Jones was later diagnosed with a right AC joint separation—which has a typical recovery time between "few days and 12 weeks" according to the Steadman Clinic—and was ruled "out indefinitely" by the team.
"He has really progressed well and hopefully he will be ready to go on Saturday," head coach Mike Krzyzewski told team radio announcer David Shumate Friday morning.
Krzyzewski alleviated some worry last Thursday, indicating in an interview with The Athletic's Dana O'Neil that Jones would be able to return to action sooner than initially thought.
“I don’t know if it’s for this game or the next game, but it’s not going to be long term, where it’s a month or something,’’ Krzyzewski told O'Neil, explaining that the injury is a bit more severe than a Grade 1 separation. “He’s going to be back.’’
The Apple Valley, Minn., native's return gives Duke back one of the nation's best ball handlers—Jones is third in the nation with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 5.69—and its strongest on-ball defender.
In two full games without Jones, the Blue Devils relied primarily on playing iso-ball with Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett both averaging more than 25 points per contest. Duke won both of those contests—including a 72-70 win against then-No. 4 Virginia in Durham last Saturday.
With Jones back in the lineup, junior Jack White will likely return to the bench. White has struggled to find his shot from deep of late, connecting on just one of his last 18 attempts beyond the arc. He'll provide the Blue Devils with another option off the pine, as the starters carried the overwhelming majority of the scoring load last week.
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