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Tyus Jones, Minnesota Recruit, Could Hold Key To Golden Gophers' Future

The Minnesota Golden Gophers have a big game coming up in the 2012 NIT Tournament, but Apple Valley point guard Tyus Jones could be key recruit for the future.

Tyus Jones won't be competing in this weekend's state basketball tournament, but that doesn't mean the Apple Valley sophomore isn't still being paid attention to by Minnesota sports fans. Jones is one of the top point guards in the nation and, if all goes according to plan, he could end up as a future member of the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Jones is widely considered to be a Top 5 recruit in the class of 2014 and has received offers from the Duke Blue Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Ohio St. Buckeyes, Michigan St. Spartans and Baylor Bears thus far in his young high school career. Oh, and Tubby Smith's Gophers, too.

Considering the University of Minnesota is right in Jones' backyard, at least relatively speaking, it's all but imperative that Smith is able to get Jones to commit to the Gophers. That's easier said than done, however, when competing with the likes of Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Izzo and Thad Matta among others.

Smith does have a trump card in his back pocket because of location, though -- something Jones talked about in an interview with the Pioneer Press when they talked to him about being named the newspaper's basketball player of the year.

From the beginning of the recruiting process, Jones said he has made it clear to family and friends that he won't make a hasty decision.

"Education is the major thing,'' he said. "That has to be the right fit. That is the most important piece.''

Jones also admits he is feeling some heat to stay home and play at Minnesota.

"I am hearing from the local people that if I stay at home, all of the great players will follow,'' Jones said. "Most people have been pretty respectful of this process and are allowing me to take it slow.''

Some of the in-state greats include Champlin's Kyle Washington and Hopkins' Riley Dearing next year as well as Robbinsdale Cooper High School's Rashad Vaughn in the 2014 class. If Jones is able to keep a couple of them in the state, along with maybe attracting a few out of state recruits to play the nation's top point guard, the Gophers program could be in for quite a turnaround.

The nice thing is, if Andre Hollins and the rest of the current Gophers are able to build on their NIT run, the Gophers might be even more attractive by the time Jones is ready to make his decision.

For more on the Minnesota Golden Gophers, check out The Daily Gopher. You can also learn more about college basketball around the nation at SB Nation's College Basketball hub.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.