The UK basketball staff might want to have a golf cart on standby for Tyus Jones’ unofficial visit this weekend.
The No. 1 player in the class of 2014 suffered a sprained ankle during practice Wednesday and did not play for Apple Valley (Minn.) on Thursday night.
Apple Valley Coach Zach Goring told the Herald-Leader there is no timetable for Jones’ return to the court. The injury will not affect his visit to UK. He is scheduled to leave Friday night and stay for Saturday’s game against Texas A&M.
Jones missed several games earlier this season with back spasms, and was just rounding back into shape when the latest injury occurred. Goring predicted his star player was at “95 percent” for Apple Valley’s game Tuesday, when Jones had 24 points and eight rebounds.
Watching from the sidelines is unfamiliar to Jones, who began playing for Apple Valley as an eighth-grader and had started every game for the Eagles until this season’s injuries.
“The energy that he’s created in our program, you can’t even describe,” Goring said.
The coach discussed Jones’ recruitment with the Herald-Leader earlier this week. He also talked about what makes the 6-foot-1 point guard so special on the court.
Goring compared Jones’ playing style to Chris Paul and Tony Parker, two of the best point guards in the NBA.
“The way he can totally control a game — and not even by scoring,” he said. “His basketball IQ is through the roof. We run a lot of screen-and-roll action and he understands where to go on that sort of stuff.”
Jones averaged 28.1 points, 8.0 assists and 3.4 steals per game as a sophomore last season. He was named Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Minnesota and went on to help lead Team USA’s under-17 squad to a gold medal at the world championships in Lithuania.
Goring said Jones’ point production is a little down this season, but that’s mostly because his teammates have become better scorers. Apple Valley has a couple of high-percentage three-point shooters, and Jones has racked up the assists by getting them open shots.
“He’ll throw any pass from anywhere to those kids,” Goring said. “It’s amazing. He’ll be driving down the lane, they’ll have two guys go up and contest and all of a sudden he flips it across the court to a wide-open three-point shooter. The thing that he really does well is he puts his teammates in a spot to succeed. He just controls the game as a point guard.”
Goring’s explanation of his point guard’s style brings to mind a player that can be out of control at times. But the coach said that’s not the case.
Few of his passes miss the mark.
“There’s not a ton of flash,” Goring said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen him do an around-the-back pass. Very rarely does he get in trouble.
“He’s not that type that’s at a game puffing his jersey out or any of that stuff. There’s no showboating with him at all. He’s very under control.”