Tyus Jones: Success At The Summit
Well, we did it! Throughout our practices and planning for the Nike Hoop Summit, we had one goal in mind: get the U.S. team a victory. The World Team had won the last two Nike Hoop Summits, and we were determined to start a new win streak of our own.
It was a really good game, definitely a hard-fought battle. Both our team and the World Team played extremely well. The World Team jumped out to an early lead. We were feeling the game out and made some mistakes early, so we just had to settle in. Eventually in the second quarter, we went on a run, and picked up the tempo with a full-court press. That forced some turnovers. We got some transition buckets, and that kind of helped us gain momentum for the rest of the game. It went back and forth a bit in the second half, but we were able to take the lead and sustain it and then close the game out in the fourth quarter.
After the game, coach (Mike) Jones thanked us for all of our hard work during the week. We had two-a-day practices from Wednesday through Friday. With the short time before the game, we really had to be locked in and focused, so he thanked us for that. He said we did a great job of executing the game plan and getting the USA back on the winning side. That was our main focus, so we were both happy and proud to have succeeded.
Along with a great crowd of fans at the Moda Center for the game, there were also a lot of NBA scouts in attendance. The scouts were at our practice and scrimmage on Thursday, too. I was trying not to pay any attention to them or let it affect my game. But every player knows there are scouts there, and you want to play well. For the most part, we were able to block them out and focus on the practices, doing our jobs and just working hard. I think I played well this week. I know the scouts were watching, but that really wasn’t my focus at all.
As for the fans, it was a good crowd at the game – it was nice to see people coming out and supporting USA Basketball and the World Team, and just the Nike Hoop Summit in general. Many of the fans came up to us and asked for autographs in the tunnel after the game. Of course, we were happy to oblige. So it was really fun, a really great environment.
After the game, we hung out at the hotel a little while and then took off for the airport. Everyone kind of started to say their goodbyes, thinking we wouldn’t see each other for a while, then we realized we’d see each other again in about 48 hours. Just about everyone from the U.S. team at the Hoop Summit will be in New York this week for the Jordan Brand Classic.
I took a redeye flight back to Minnesota after the game, but I’m leaving Tuesday morning for New York. I was back at school Monday – I had to make it back and talk to my teachers, get some of the work that I missed (even though I’ll be missing more this week). The teachers are great in terms of working with me and being flexible. I have to thank them for that.
It’s been a pretty busy stretch, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s all fun, and a great honor to be at these different places I’ve been able to travel to. It’s special to myself and to my family. I’m having fun with it.
After the Jordan Brand Classic, I’ll be home for the rest of the school year – and looking forward to graduation.
After this week, though, it definitely will be much longer before the members of the USATeam will be together again. I’ll be with Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow when we get to Duke in the fall. Some other guys who are going to the same school will be together at their colleges. But as a group, I don’t know the next time we’ll all be together at the same time.
Thankfully, we have some amazing memories. It was just a really great time last week, and I thank USA Basketball for the opportunity to represent them. We made a lot of memories at the practices and back at the hotel and in the game, obviously this is just something that I don’t think any of us on the team will ever forget.