When NIKE EYBL Atlanta tipped off, there was no clear-cut favorite to take home Regular Season Most Valuable Player.
Tre Jones changed that very quickly.
An old school floor general in every sense, the Howard Pulley Panthers leader appeared focused and determined to guide Pulley to a perfect weekend and take over sole possession of first place in the EYBL.
In all four games, the Apple Valley native did whatever it took to put points on the board for his team, whether that was draining long jumpers and floaters in the lane with equal frequency, finding open teammates by threading the needle, or guarding the opposing team’s top scorer.
Once again, Jones showed a tremendous command of the game that translates nicely onto the stat sheet. On the court, Jones is a direct extension of head coach Antwan Harris. Rarely does the Panther's head coach get on Jones, frankly because his point guard rarely ever makes a mistake. He doesn't get too high or low, and constantly demands the utmost effort from his running mates.
Jones saved his best for last, showing out with an electrifying 31-point, 17-dime, 7-rebound, 1-turnover performance to seal his status as the single most important player on any team in Atlanta.
Performances like that - especially against opposing highly-ranked guard Javonte Smart - is a huge reason why Pulley was the first squad to clinch a Peach Jam berth.
Our EYBL preseason magazine "Welcome To The Circuit' featured a piece centered around Jones, and the fact that the Howard Pulley Panthers were finally 'his' team. After a long wait, it was Jones' turn to lead.
Jones' play may come as a surprise to pundits across the nation, but Howard Pulley Director Rene Pulley predicted this output before the season.
"(Tre) Jones is a bad ****** ******, he's the best point guard in the country," Pulley said, with us letting you fill in the blank with your choice of complimentary expletive. "The rest of the league is about to learn what you and I already know."
Mr. Pulley is a grassroots basketball legend, so when he makes a statement like that, you'd better listen.
Individual accolades aside, we are 100% positive that Jones would trade his session four stats for an undefeated final session. That's part of the reason why Pulley so firmly believes he's at the top of his class.
If his Panthers pull that off, they'll head into Peach Jam as the No. 1 team in the circuit for the second straight year.
When it comes to Jones, Rene Pulley didn't think about what he had, he knew.
Now the rest of the country does as well.