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Duke Will Expect A Lot From Tre Jones Next Season

Coach K will need a lot from his star sophomore point guard

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State Farm Champions Classic
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 06: Tre Jones #3 of the Duke Blue Devils shoots the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats during the State Farm Champions Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on November 6, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Apparently Tre Jones is on the Surgeon’s Preferred Shopper’s Plan.

Every 10th surgery is free.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But since the end of the 2018-’19 season Jones has had right hip surgery-about a month ago--and hernia surgery, last Friday.

And this is after missing last summer’s Canadian tour following surgery to the other hip and missing part of last season with a shoulder injury.

But if surgery is the beginning of how-I-spent-summer vacation, then he expects to write a very different ending to his summer.

Duke has had an interesting two months since the disappointing end to last season, signing touted forward Matthew Hurt, having California prepsters Boogie Ellis and Cassius Stanley pass each other at the figurative entrance/exit door, somewhat unexpectedly losing Marques Bolden to the NBA draft, sweating out Javin DeLaurier’s NBA decision.

But nothing more directly impacts next season’s team than the return of Jones, a rising sophomore point guard.

“I had a couple of things done,” he told the media Wednesday. “But I’m feeling well and back working out, getting going now. I’m living here for the summer, taking classes second session, working out.”

The NBA? “I felt like I still wanted to accomplish more here. I have a lot of things to work on, to improve on and just being part of the Duke family. There’s nothing better than that.”

Jones says he never seriously considered joining classmates Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish in the 2019 NBA draft.

“It wasn’t a tough decision at all. I didn’t even test the waters. I knew I wanted to return for my second season. I wasn’t looking at my draft stock, just what I wanted to do.”

Jones acknowledged that not winning it all last season was a factor in his return.

“My main goal coming here was to win a national championship. So, not winning that definitely had an impact on me.”

Jones wants to improve his individual skills, simply saying “everything in my game,” when asked what he needs to work on.

Mike Krzyzewski made no attempt to deny Jones’ importance to the 2019-’20 team.

“Huge,” Krzyzewski said of Jones’ return. “He’s got to be a guy who looks for his shot. Obviously, we had a sensational group last year and you want to find those guys but Tre needs to be that consistent scorer. I would like to see him be a double-double guy. He can do that in scoring. It will be difficult in assists but it’s possible. That’s expecting a lot but it’s a goal because he can do it.”

No Duke player has ever come close to averaging 10 assists per game. Bobby Hurley holds the school record at 8.2 per game, back in 1993.

If that bar wasn’t high enough, Krzyzewski has additional plans for Jones.

There was a time when it was said that the only good thing about sophomores is that they eventually become juniors.

Today, a sophomore point guard like Jones is a veteran. In fact, you have to go back to Quinn Cook to find the last time Duke had an incumbent starting point guard.

Krzyzewski wants Jones to be the experienced floor leader Duke has lacked in recent years.

“The main thing for me is for him to be a even a more vocal leader. It’s hard as a freshman. He was good. He understood what was out there. But I need him to be more verbal, to be more vocal, in running the group and also in demanding that certain things be run. A lot of people can yell out orders or instructions. But a leader makes the orders or instructions happen, that you act upon them. I’m going to help him. He can do it.”

Jones confirms that he’s been working with Krzyzewski on leadership skills.

“It comes a little natural. But with everything that you have, you’ve got to work on it. Coming here, being with coach for a year, I’ve learned a lot about how to be a better leader. The leader he is, the things he’s been able to teach me, I think I can continue to take steps forward as a leader.”

That’s an ambitious to-do list. But Jones has the quite confidence of someone who knows that’s ahead and is ready to embrace any challenge.

The outcome of that journey will play a crucial role in Duke’s 2019-’20 season.

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