Tyus Jones: Ready to Take on the World - Diary #2
On Saturday, we’ll be on the court at the Moda Center playing in the Nike Hoop Summit. On Wednesday night, we were spectators at the Moda Center – watching what turned out to be a very exciting Trail Blazers win over Sacramento. The Kings came back in the fourth quarter to take the lead, and then Dorell Wright hit a 3-pointer with 7.6 seconds left to give Portland the win. It was a lot of fun – and great to see a game that went down to the wire.
Of course, this is a working trip. So as much as I have fun watching basketball, I try to learn from the pros. I’m learning all the time, trying to soak in as much as possible. I look for the little things. As a point guard, I’m watching those guys – how they’re spacing the floor and running the team, what they’re doing with the ball and stuff like that. So I’m watching the point guards mainly, trying to pick out the stuff they do, take their game apart.
Like most fans, my favorite NBA player is LeBron James, but when it comes to point guard, I like watching Chris Paul.
As for our game, practice is going really good. We’re competing hard, going twice a day. We’re going after it and the guys are really focused. Everyone is getting better with each practice, getting comfortable with each other and used to the pace. As I mentioned, we’ve all played together before – and it’s great to see how everyone’s game has improved. Each practice has seen someone different with the hot hand. I’d like to tell you that one player or another has made the biggest impression, but I can’t really pick out one guy. I guess that bodes well for the team!
We had a scrimmage on Thursday night against a group of local players. They were mostly college-aged guys – one of them was Payton Pritchard, a member of USA Basketball’s Developmental National Team. It’s good to play against another team as opposed to just a practice, and I think it went really well. We definitely have some things we need to improve on, but we looked good out there. If I had to choose an MVP of the scrimmage, I’d give it to Jahlil Okafor.
For some of us, the Nike Hoop Summit is the middle stop of three big events. Last week, I was in Chicago for the McDonald’s All-America Game. This week it’s Portland, and next week I’ll be in Brooklyn, N.Y., for the Jordan Brand Classic. Between these events and the USA Basketball tournaments I’ve played in, I’ve been lucky enough to visit a lot of great places. Without a doubt, my favorite stop so far has been the Canary Islands two summers ago. We stopped there for an exhibition tournament in 2012, on our way to the FIBA U17 World Championship in Lithuania.
The Canary Islands was the most beautiful place that I’ve ever been to. (And the weather is just a little better there than it is back in Minnesota.)
By the way, one of my teammates at that U17 World Championship in Lithuania was Jabari Parker – who I’m looking forward to teaming up with again when I get to Duke in the fall. I spoke to Coach K just before coming out here, and I’ll probably talk to him again in a few days. We talk on a regular basis, and I’m very excited to get to Durham.
But we’ve got business here first. Saturday we take on the World team, and we’re ready to play.
Don’t forget to check out the game on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. ET.