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Associated Press, Published March 27 2012

Apple Valley's Jones named AP Player of the Year

MINNEAPOLIS – Tyus Jones turned heads when he became Apple Valley’s starting point guard as an eighth-grader two years ago.

Check out the attention he’s getting now.

Whether the boxes full of recruiting material at home, the constant presence of major college coaches at his games or the flock of fans coming to watch Apple Valley play, Jones has become quite the star attraction. So it was no surprise that the

6-foot-2, 175-pound sophomore was picked as the Minnesota Associated Press Player of the Year for high school boys basketball.

“I’m still taking it the same way, trying to enjoy it and take it slowly, have fun with it and not let it stress me out or anything,” Jones said.

He has double-digit scholarship offers from major programs – he lost track of the latest count – but college is far enough away that he’s not yet ready to make that important decision. For now, his priorities are continuing to develop his game and to try to help Apple Valley take that always-challenging next step as a team. The Eagles were third in the South Suburban Conference, behind Class 4A state runner-up Lakeville North and intra-city rival Eastview, which beat them in the Section 3 final for a spot in the state tournament.

“We made strides this year,” Jones said. “I just think that we’ve got to keep working hard and stay focused on the little things.”

The same goes for Jones himself, who became a stronger defender, significantly improved his outside shooting and blossomed into more of a vocal leader. The soft-spoken kid is only a sophomore, sure, but he’s already a three-year varsity starter.

“He really wants to put Apple Valley back on the map on the statewide scene. Next year, that’s certainly our goal,” Eagles head coach Zach Goring said.

Jones averaged 28.2 points per game this season and shot 41 percent from 3-point range. Opposing teams stopped giving him as much space on the perimeter this season, which made it easier for him to drive to the basket and score or pass to an open teammate.

After playing with a junior national team last year, Jones will try out this summer for Team USA’s under-17 world tournament squad. He’ll play on a big stage in college someday, somewhere, and he’s certainly on track for a professional career. But for now, he’s content to be right where he is.

People know where to find him, too. The doors were locked at halftime of the junior varsity game when Apple Valley hosted Eastview during the regular season because the crowd got so big.

“There are some nights he can’t even get out of the gym because he’s taking pictures and signing autographs. It doesn’t get to his head at all,” Goring said. “You walk in and see Tom Izzo or Tubby Smith in the stands, but it doesn’t seem to bother Tyus. He’s used to it, and our kids are used to it.”

Joining Jones on the AP’s all-state team were four seniors: Siyani Chambers of Hopkins, Joey King of Eastview, Tyler Vaughan of Braham and Johnny Woodard of Duluth East.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Tyus Jones, Apple Valley

First team

Tyus Jones, so, Apple Valley

Siyani Chambers, sr, Hopkins

Joey King, sr, Eastview

Tyler Vaughan, sr, Braham

Johnny Woodard, sr, Duluth East

Second team

Sanjay Lumpkin, sr, Benilde-St. Margaret’s

Marcus Marshall, sr, St. Paul Johnson

Zach Huisken, sr, Southwest

Minnesota Christian

Isaiah Zierden, sr, Benilde-St. Margaret’s

Rashad Vaughn, so, Robbinsdale Cooper

Honorable mention

Casey Bruggeman, sr, Pelican Rapids

Jordan Bruhn, sr, Perham

Jordan Cresap, sr, Perham

Matt Ellingson, sr, Moorhead

Jaylon Gunderson, sr, Thief River Falls

Luke Halbakken, sr, Pelican Rapids

Daniel Janu, sr, Frazee

Brian Labat, sr, Detroit Lakes

Aaron Lien, jr, Moorhead

Joe Mollberg, sr, Detroit Lakes

Tate Mosher, sr, Fertile-Beltrami

Mark Schumacher, sr, Perham