DURHAM, N.C. — Tyus Jones doesn’t view the point guard position at Duke as a competition.
More like a collaboration.
Once the season gets started in a few months, Jones could beat out senior Quinn Cook for the starting position, but the freshman says he’s not working against him.
“We’re looking at it as, we’re both trying to get better,” Jones said in an interview with The Associated Press. “We’re both pushing each other to be the best players we can be.
“We’re both trying to play in the backcourt at the same time and with each other we feel … we both bring different dynamics to the table that can help our team be good,” he added. “We’re looking at it as a positive rather than a negative. It’s a positive to have two point guards on the floor, so that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Jones arrived on campus last month as one of four members of one of the nation’s highest-rated recruiting classes, along with big man Jahlil Okafor, small forward Justise Winslow and guard Grayson Allen.
They’ve spent plenty of time in the weight room and on the court in pickup games this summer, getting used to playing with each other and with a solid group of returners that includes Cook and fellow guard Rasheed Sulaimon.
Jones — whose parents got the idea for his name from former UCLA guard Tyus Edney — arrived with a typical Duke pedigree.
The McDonald’s All-American won three Minnesota high school player of the year awards and averaged nearly 26 points and eight assists last season for Apple Valley High School.
In the backcourt he joins Cook — a McDonald’s All-American from 2011 who has made 60 starts over three seasons and has averaged 9.4 points for his career while making 36 percent of his 3-pointers.
The relationship between the two point guards, Jones said, is “never a rivalry or a competition or anything of that sort” because “we all have one goal in mind.”
For Jones, the transition has been smoother than he perhaps expected.
“It’s never cliques or anything — it’s always all of us, and I think it’s helped us both on and off the court with chemistry,” Jones said. “I definitely didn’t know how it would be coming into it, if everyone always hangs out or whatever. But after the first week or so, when we leave the locker room, we’ll always be together. … It shows you how close we are and the bond and chemistry that we have.”
It helps that he arrived with one of his closest friends — Okafor. Jones says they first played against each other as third graders and became tight at various USA Basketball functions. They declared their intentions to attend Duke during a joint announcement last November.
The four freshmen “are extremely close,” Jones said, “and so that makes it a lot easier on us that we’re all going through this together and getting used to it together. The seniors, the upperclassmen, the guys who were here last year welcomed us with open arms, so that made it a lot easier to transition into the college lifestyle.”