This Article by Bermuda Bob
Last year, Matt Jones came to Duke as the #22 ESPN Frosh, known for his catch-and-shoot abilities. He got to play in 32 games for just 235 minutes. Many believed he would be just another Duke shooter in the mold of so many greats that roll off fan tongues. Then came the real world – the regular season.
In the conundrum that was the 2013-14 season, Matt was called on to play stalwart defense and occasionally shoot. Many wondered if he was going to become one of those players who would be called on to fulfill Coach K’s very different vision for them. When a player is open to accept that vision, they almost always become better than their wildest dreams. Obviously, Coach K saw the defensive side of Matt that was just the opposite of his High School career.
There’s an interesting irony to this. You see, Matt’s older sister, Jordan, who plays for Texas A&M, has been the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year and a member of the SEC All-Defensive Team in her Junior year. She has set a single season record for Assists, and can boast a “Triple Double.” Obviously, Coach K is hoping that the proverbial apple has not fallen far from the tree.
This Sophomore year will prove to be either a frustration or a fulfillment of Matt’s recruitment. I say that because he is expected to play behind Senior Quinn Cook, Junior Rasheed Sulaimon, and Frosh Tyus Jones on the depth chart. Yes, you see where I’m going, another upperclassmen almost automatically subverted to a guy recruited behind him in his position … well almost. If Matt can continue on the path that Coach K set him on last season, he could be as valuable as defensive guards like Tyler Thornton, WoJo, and Nolan Smith !!!
So, does that diminish his profile ??? I guess I’d answer that with a question. Did it diminish Lance Thomas while he participated in lifting the National Championship trophy in 2010 ??? Lance came to Duke as a prolific scorer at St. Benedict’s in Newark, NJ. His transformation was lauded by all, except his High School Coach, who has the temerity to question Coach K’s intentions. In Matt’s case there is nothing but support from his base, maybe even a bit of sibling competition with his sister.
Since this series of articles are written before the season starts, it is difficult to be absolutely sure what vision Coach K has for Matt amongst his compatriots. One thing is certain, he brings a comfortable depth to the BackCourt that allows for a flexible rotation. That flexibility comes from Matt’s original scoring abilities. Those are like riding a bicycle, so an excellent defensive performance coupled with the ability to shoot always makes him dangerous to the opposition.
My proof is that Matt started four (4) times in ACC competition last season. We all know that Coach K puts a premium on who earns that right.
I am hoping for this to be a building year for Matt. More game experience, more minutes, more production, and a cementing of his reputation at Duke for the next few years.
Rock On, Matt !!!