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Insider

New 2014 No. 1 Jones talks recruiting

10/26/2012

The winds of change breezed through the ESPN rankings on Thursday. The reclassification of Andrew Wiggins (Thornhill, Ontario/Huntington Prep) and his subsequent insertion into the No. 1 spot in the 2013 rankings came with a ripple effect.

The first ripple happened in the ESPN 100 senior class rankings as previous No. 1 Jabari Parker (Chicago/Simeon) was gently placed in the No. 2 slot.

Let’s be clear: Parker is a stud. “Dropping” him to No. 2 was an unfortunate byproduct of Wiggins’ presence. Parker is an elite player and person. His value did not change one iota with the move. I said it when the move happened that this is as strong a 1-2 punch (or 1-10 for that matter) as we’ve seen in a few years. Yes, we believe Wiggins is a special talent, thus the move was made. But Parker is no slouch.

While everyone’s attention was understandably drawn to the change at the top the senior class rankings, a similar change struck the junior class. Point guard Tyus Jones (Apple Valley, Minn./Apple Valley) moved up a spot into the No. 1 position in the ESPN 60.

Here’s how it happened.

In August, when we met as a staff regarding the rankings, the question was posed to everyone: What happens if Wiggins moves up into the 2013 class? In short, while we were picking a No. 2 prospect, we vetted the choice as if that player could be No. 1. The most time we spent on the list was the No. 2 spot, and considerable discussion was given to differences between Jahlil Okafor (Chicago/Whitney Young) and Dakari Johnson (New York, N.Y./Montverde).

In the end, we felt great about Jones and now he’s the top guy. Simple as that. So on Thursday we were able to make the switch without hesitation.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Minnesota, an unsuspecting point guard was learning the news that he’d just been elevated to No. 1.

“I actually got a text from my mom and Jahlil Okafor at about the same time,” Jones said. “They said, ‘Andrew Wiggins reclassified?’ I went on Twitter and saw it.

“It was an overwhelming feeling, but a great one at the same time. It was real humbling. I loved it.”

Jones took the honor in stride with a dose of humility and responsibility.

“It’s an unbelievable honor," he said. "It’s a great feeling overall. It’s something that kind of tells you where you’re at. Now that just means I have to work harder and that many more people are out there trying to be better than you. They’re coming for you, and it makes you work harder.

“It’s something you don’t really think of growing up. To be realistic, you would love to be (No. 1), but realistic thoughts mean you wouldn’t typically think that. Now that it’s a reality it’s kind of crazy.”

Speaking of crazy, Jones’ recruitment will be a fantastic voyage through most of the elite programs across the country. Last weekend, a trip to North Carolina allowed him to stop in Durham and Chapel Hill to see two bitter rivals.

There Jones was, sitting in a room with Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski.

“He said a lot of different stuff,” Jones said. “We have a great relationship. Sometimes we have a regular conversation and other times the recruiting part of it he’s letting me know what he thinks about me and their system.

“When you think about what he’s done throughout his career and the type of players he’s coached at Duke and the USA team, it’s different to think about just sitting in a room with this guy. I enjoyed every minute of it.”

Jones shuffled back and forth between the Blue Devils and Tar Heels. UNC also made its play.

“They said they have a high interest and they think I can go there and fit in with their players and their style as well," Jones said. "Coach (Roy) Williams likes my game and thinks I can help them out.”

To be clear, Jones isn’t close to making a decision -- or, for that matter, chopping his list.

“I haven’t cut down my list as of yet, officially," he said. "I’d say the top schools besides Duke and North Carolina would be Minnesota, Michigan State, Ohio State, Baylor, Kansas, Kentucky, Stanford and Arizona.”

Each of those head coaches except Arizona's Sean Miller has been in to see him this fall.

Knowing Jones, the number in front of his name may have changed, but his approach won’t. This is a guy who defines winning. He’s a kid who makes the game easy for his teammates.

He’s Tyus Jones, the nation’s best pure point guard and new No. 1 player in the Class of 2014.