Dec 31, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Top high school recruit Tyus Jones looks on prior to the game between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Michigan State Spartans at Williams Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
The legend of Tyus Jones added an exclamation mark to his career Saturday night as the standout junior from Apple Valley led his team to a Class 4A state championship.
Jones, a five-star recruit and possibly the No. 1 overall recruit in the class of 2014, scored 28 points and added 11 rebounds and five assists as his Eagles went on to beat Park Center, 74-57, to capture the school’s first state championship held at the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis.
A few hours earlier at the Target Center, another top recruit, Reid Travis, led his DeLaSalle squad to a second consecutive Class 3A state championship.
Travis, a Class of 2014 four-star recruit and All-Metro first team along with Jones, scored 17 points while adding 12 rebounds to push his team to a 50-33 victory over Austin High School.
Obviously the Gophers would like to have one or both of the Minnesota products, but several other programs are showing how much they would value the teenagers.
Saturday night, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo flew into Minneapolis on time to watch Jones hoist the state championship trophy — hours after his team beat Memphis in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
But Izzo is not the only coach to fly into Minneapolis during the winter to see Jones play — North Carolina head coach Roy Williams was sighted at the Timberwolves shootout in January.
The Class of 2014 is quickly becoming the best class to ever graduate high school from Minnesota. And as other top tier programs try and claim stake in Minnesota, the Gophers will need to patrol its own turf and cease the exodus of prep talent.
It’s no secret prep talent don’t want to stay and play for the Gophers. No practice facility combined with a team not yet ready to challenge the top echelons of the conference are big drawbacks.
But what can the Gophers do at this point? (Anything short of offering up somebody’s wife)
Both Jones and Travis list the University of Minnesota as one of their final choices but how much of that is just to appease the home-folks?
While he’s not from Minnesota, 2013 recruit Gavin Schilling’s decision last Wednesday may forebode any similar dealings next year.
Schilling, a German national who currently plays in Nevada, listed the Gophers as one of four final choices but ended up choosing Michigan State instead.
A three-star recruit himself, Schilling had been a teammate of Alex Foster, a 2013 Minnesota signee, and was attracting a lot of pull from the Twin Cities before he committed to the Spartans.
Now Foster can only look forward to playing Schilling at least once a year in the dreaded Big Ten conference schedule.
Maybe all that can done has been done to try and sway top Minnesota recruits like Jones and Travis to stay in-state. Or maybe a coaching change is needed to infuse energy into the program that recruits can get excited about.
But as it stands today, Minnesota’s chances of landing any of the top recruits are as slim as the Gophers winning the Big Ten crown next season.
- Jones was named Minnesota’s Gatorade Player of the Year last week by ESPN.
- Travis was named the Star Tribune’s Metro Player of the Year last week.
- Let’s not forget about another 2014 recruit, Rashad Vaughn of Robbinsdale Cooper. The five-star recruit was also getting looks from Roy Williams at the Timberwolves shootout and should be considered in the same class as Jones and Travis.