Tyus Jones: Nike Hoop Summit Diary #1
The 2014 USA Basketball Men’s Junior Select National Team is in Portland, Ore., this week preparing for Saturday’s Nike Hoop Summit. The U.S. team will face a World Team at the Moda Center in a game that will be televised by ESPN2. Tyus Jones, a heralded guard who has already won two gold medals playing for USA Basketball, agreed to share his experience this week with USAB.com:
It’s been a month or two since I learned I was selected to represent USA Basketball in this year’s Nike Hoop Summit, and I’ve been looking forward to it ever since. Most of us arrived here in Portland Tuesday night, and when USA Basketball’s BJ Johnson showed us the highlight video he put together, it really got the juices flowing!
I’ve been involved with USA Basketball the last few years and to be selected to represent your country is a great honor. I was just happy and excited to get out here and start working with these guys. We have a great group of guys -- really hard-working and very unselfish.
It’s always fun to be around these guys. I was with some of them just last week at the McDonald’s All-America Game in Chicago. I know everybody on this team. We all know each other from summer ball and previous USA Basketball teams, so Tuesday night was kind of a reunion. We got to the hotel late after our flights and hung out, catching up. It was a lot of fun. Like I said it’s a great group of guys. We enjoy one another’s presence.
Two guys who are here that I know I’ll be seeing a lot of going forward are Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow. Jahlil, Justise and I are all headed to Duke in the fall to play for Coach K, and we can’t wait. We’re already great friends – that’s part of the reason we’re going to school together.
Of course, two other members of this team – Joel Berry and Theo Pinson – are committed to rival North Carolina. We’re also close with those guys. When we’re on the court next year, that’s where the rivalry will take place, but off the court we’re still friends. There’s definitely some joking back and forth, a little smack talk, but nothing too serious.
Our first practice Wednesday morning went pretty well. With only a few days before the game, it really forces us to focus our efforts. You don’t have a lot of time for adjustments and stuff like that.
After that first practice, we put on a clinic at St. Mary’s Home for Boys in Portland. It was really good and a lot fun. Coach Don Showalter from USA Basketball helped out and had us in different groups of seven or eight. It was really great just to be able to work with these kids and see them having fun playing basketball. We really enjoyed it and it’s just a great honor that we were out here and able to take the time end effort to help them.
I’ve done things like this in camps at high school back in Minnesota. It’s great to give back to the younger kids, because we’re so fortunate in the stuff we have and I’ve been extremely blessed. So any chance I have to work with younger kids and give something back, I’m more than happy to do it and I really enjoy it.
Wednesday night we went to the Sacramento Kings-Portland Trail Blazers game at the Moda Center – the same place we’ll be playing on Saturday. And when we get back to practice on Thursday, the focus will be on beating the World Team, which has won the Nike Hoop Summit two years in a row.
It’s definitely something we’ve been talking about. As great as it is to see friends and come together this week, winning this game and starting a streak of our own is the top priority.