From 2011 to 2013, when he was in high school, Jones was a frequent member of the Minnesota Lynx’s practice squad—a group of men (plus Jones, who was still a teenager), brought together by assistant coaches for the Lynx to practice against. The fact that Jones practiced with the Minnesota Lynx years before being drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves is almost too good of a story. A young hometown favorite being taught by other hometown favorites—Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus. That wasn’t what it felt like at the time, though, back in 2011 Jones wasn’t an NCAA tournament winner or a future NBA player, he was just Jadee Jones’ younger brother.


Jadee paved the way for Tyus’ time with the Lynx. Jadee was recruited by Jim Petersen, who was at the time the assistant coach in charge of supervising the Lynx’s practice squad. The group is constructed to give the Lynx specific looks based on their opponents’ play styles, and Jadee stood out immediately—he was fast, smart and had a great ability to mimic the attributes of the players the Lynx were scheming against.


Following Jadee’s success with the squad, Petersen reached out to the Jones family to see about getting Tyus involved. The younger Jones brother already had a busy schedule with AAU ball and a bright future in basketball, but this was too good of an opportunity to pass up. The family found the time to make it work.

“I was a Lynx fan. At first it was kind of weird being around some of the best players in the world,” said Tyus. “Being around Lindsay [Whalen] and Maya [Moore] and Seimone [Augustus] and just seeing how they approached the game, it was really cool for me. It was a different experience, something I didn’t know what to expect, but I ended up really liking it.”


“He might have been 16 when he’s practicing against Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus,” Petersen said. “One of the early memories I have is of Seimone crossing him up and him dropping to the ground. Seimone was so deceptive with her crossover dribble it buckled his knees. We all just died.”

While such an event might have embarrassed some players, Jones didn’t view his participation on the practice squad as an opportunity to prove that he was the best. Instead, Jones was wholly committed to doing the job that was given to him, if it ended up with Augustus getting the better of him, so be it.

“I need [practice squad players] to be whatever player we need them to simulate for, and I remember Tyus being very diligent about that,” said coach Cheryl Reeve. “Great eye-contact, listening to what the team needed. Sometimes you get guys that come in there and they think it’s like a try-out for them, Tyus was so good at just giving up himself to the team and trying to help us win. He had joy in what he was doing.”