Duke faces Johns Hopkins for NCAA Final Four berth
Built like a linebacker or small forward, and with the talent to attract college scholarship offers in football and basketball, Myles Jones cast his lot on the lacrosse field with Duke.
While he’s already helped the Blue Devils win a national championship and is in the process of helping them try to win another, Mike Krzyzewski is keeping his promise to wait.
Jones, Duke’s 6-4, 240-pound sophomore midfielder, uses his size and athleticism to star in lacrosse for Blue Devils coach John Danowski. When he’s done with his lacrosse eligibility, and only then, Krzyzewski is open to Jones joining the Duke’s basketball team.
“During my prep school year,” Jones said, “Coach D and Coach K made a deal that he wouldn’t talk to me after. He’s holding up his end of the bargain.”
Jones grew up on Long Island in Huntington, N.Y., where he starred in football,basketball and lacrosse at Walt Whitman High School. As a junior, he decided that lacrosse would be his college sport.
Syracuse wanted Jones to play football and lacrosse. He had basketball scholarship interest from schools like Richmond and Xavier.
Instead, he picked lacrosse and chose to attend Duke over Notre Dame and Virginia.
That doesn’t mean the skills he picked up in basketball and football are in his past.
“I think it really contributes to my game,” Jones said. “Running through checks comes from football. My game is a mesh of all three sports.”
Heading into an NCAA Tournament quarterfinal match against Johns Hopkins today (noon, ESPNU) at Newark, Del., Jones has 30 goals and 20 assists in Duke’s 17 games this season. He’s part of an outstanding group of midfielders and attackers for the Blue Devils (14-3), who average a healthy 14.82 goals per game.
Senior attackman Jordan Wolf has 54 goals and 30 assists. Sophomore midfielder Deemer Class has 33 goals and 27 assists. Senior attackman Josh Dionne has 45 goals and seven assists.
Jones, with his size, versatile experience and athleticism, presents a unique challenge for defenders.
“You look for transitional skills,” Danowski said. “Guys that are just used to playing games all year round. Whether you are a football quarterback and it’s third-and-2 and you have to figure out how to get a first down and keep the chains going or it’s basketball and you are on the foul line at the end of the game. Even if you are riding the bench. You practice every day and learn about leadership. Those experiences are valuable for athletes like Myles.”
Jones scored 16 goals last season, including one in the NCAA championship game when Duke beat Syracuse 16-10 at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field. He said the passage of time has made him even more comfortable this season.
“The biggest thing is playing calm as a freshman,” Jones said. “You don’t want to mess up. You get tense. I remember running around. I could have broken my shaft because that was how tight I was holding it during games. Now the game is so much slower.”