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Duke men's basketball 2019-20 player preview: Tre Jones

Jones averaged 12 points and four assists in Duke's two exhibition contests
Jones averaged 12 points and four assists in Duke's two exhibition contests

Tre Jones

Year: Sophomore 

Height: 6-foot-3

Position: Guard

Last year’s statline: 9.4 PPG, 5.3 AST, 41.4 FG%

Game Breakdown: Tre Jones didn’t put up nearly as many shots as his former superstar teammates R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish last season, but he proved to be just as essential on the court. This is because Jones is reliable on defense, can chip in some points when needed and has a high basketball IQ that comes with making the right game-time decisions. The Apple Valley, Minn., native has earned a solid reputation for his elite defensive abilities. Jones knows how to put pressure on his opponents, proven by his 1.9 steals per game last season. Against St. John’s in February, Jones limited Red Storm guard Shamorie Ponds to only 3-of-11 shooting from the field. The sophomore captain also showed his dedication on defense when he suffered a shoulder sprain against Syracuse while diving for a loose ball, an injury that kept him off the court for nearly two weeks.

While Jones has come to be known as one of the premier defenders in the country, his abilities aren’t just limited to that end of the floor. He also excels at running Duke's offense and even showcased a sweet stroke from beyond the arc in the Blue Devils' Sweet Sixteen matchup against Virginia Tech, scoring a season-high 22 points and hitting five of his seven 3-point attempts.

Role on the Team: Jones could have declared for the NBA Draft alongside Williamson, Barrett and Reddish as a potential first-round pick. But after a series of prophetic Instagram posts, Jones decided to stay in Durham for another shot at a national championship. He didn’t come back just to replicate his performance from last season, but rather to expand his game and go beyond his proven skills. Therefore, expect Jones to take on an even larger role on the team this year. 

Jones consistently started as the Blue Devils' point guard last season, and his return at that spot will be essential to the team. Jones will once again have to take the role of messenger between Coach K and the other starters, effectively listening to Krzyzyewski and keeping that advice in mind when making important decisions on the floor. Jones must also increase his scoring production this season if he wants to leave Duke with a ring on his finger. He stepped up during Duke's narrow preseason win against Northwest Missouri State, leading the team with 18 points.  

NBA Comparison:  Chris Paul—who was recently traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder—has proven to be effective as a playmaker and defender at the point guard position. Paul has been the leader in the NBA in steals for six of his 14 seasons and in assists for four seasons. Jones has also shown to be strong in both of those departments, finishing last season second in the ACC in assists and third in steals. Jones and Paul are both team leaders and are the glue on the court between all of the players during a contest. Jones has also proven to be a strong communicator on and off the hardwood, recently gaining the role of co-captain alongside seniors Javin DeLaurier and Jack White.

Projected stats: 12.2 PPG, 6.5 APG, 50 FG%

That concludes the Blue Zone's player previews. Previous players previewed include Michael Savarino, Keenan Worthington, Mike Buckmire, Justin Robinson, Jordan Goldwire, Joey Baker, Cassius Stanley, Alex O'Connell, Jack White, Javin DeLaurier, Wendell Moore Jr, Matthew Hurt and Vernon Carey Jr.

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