Indianapolis, IN – In a game where Duke freshmen combined to score 60 of the team’s 68 points in the national championship, Tyus Jones led the young squad with 23 points and cold-blooded shots down the stretch. Jones has been named NetScouts Basketball’s NCAA National Championship Player of the Game.
The 6-foot-1 point guard poured in 23 points while shooting 7-of-13 from the field, 7-of-7 from the free throw line, and 2-of-3 from three-point range as Duke defeated Wisconsin 68-63. He added five rebounds and just one turnover in a team-high 37 minutes. Jones only had four points in the first half, but scored 19 after the break and the team’s final five to seal the victory. His three-pointer with 1:24 remaining gave Duke a 66-58 lead and all but clinched the national title.
“I wanted to go somewhere where I knew we could win,” Jones said in his postgame press conference. “As soon as I stepped on campus, you could just feel the family atmosphere. It was, you know, just always positive energy, everyone caring for one another. You could just tell that this year was going to be special.”
After a special season for Jones and the Blue Devils, he’ll face a decision whether to enter the NBA Draft. After earning a national title and being named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, there doesn’t seem to be much left in the college game for Jones to accomplish. He averaged 11.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.5 rebounds per game as a freshman while shooting 41.2% from the field, 37.2% from deep, and 88.4% from the free throw line.
Jones is a poised floor general with an advanced feel for the game, while his biggest weaknesses come in his size and athletic abilities. He’s been a consistent shooter that can attack out of the pick-and-roll. With his stock as high as ever and his NBA limitations coming in areas he can’t control, expect Jones to declare and be drafted in the back end of the first round.
Other Game Notes:
-The unexpected hero for Duke was fellow freshman Grayson Allen. The 6-foot-4 guard had seen a limited role this season, but after the dismissal of Rasheed Sulaimon, the former McDonald’s All-American became a regular part of the rotation. On Monday, Allen had 16 points off the bench while shooting 5-of-8 from the field, 1-of-2 from beyond the arc, and 5-of-5 from the free throw line. With the expected departures of the other freshman trio, Allen will take over the reigns as the go-to guy next season. He could be a lottery pick next year with a consistent and productive sophomore season.
–Justise Winslow (11 points, 9 rebounds) and Jahlil Okafor (10 points, 3 rebounds) battled foul trouble, but still found ways to contribute. Neither had a standout performance but it certainly won’t ding their draft stock. Winslow is a lock for the top ten while Okafor will be taken in the top two.
-Senior Frank Kaminsky scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for Wisconsin while shooting 7-of-16 from the field and 2-of-4 from deep. He did a good job with Okafor inside, especially considering he’s more of a finesse big man. The skilled 7-footer will push for a top ten pick due to his uncanny shooting, passing, and ball-handling ability for a big man.
-After shooting 15-of-30 from three-point range in the NCAA Tournament entering Monday, Sam Dekker was 0-of-6 from deep and just 6-of-15 from the field in the loss. He finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, but it wasn’t the same Dekker that had shown glimpses worthy of a lottery pick. Dekker will still be in contention for a lottery selection, assuming the junior declares, based on his potential and athleticism for a 6-foot-9 wing. His shooting will be his biggest question mark for the next level, as he regressed to the mean in the championship.
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