Tyus Jones has accomplished many great things on the basketball court. He scored 13 of Duke's final 21 points, including a dramatic three-point shot, as the Blue Devils beat Wisconsin in the 2015 NCAA national championship game; he was named the Most Outstanding Player. He was a first-round draft pick of the Timberwolves that year and is currently playing with the Memphis Grizzlies.
But one of his favorite memories came at the end of his junior year at Apple Valley High School. In the 2013 Class 4A state championship game at Target Center, the Eagles defeated Park Center 74-57. As Apple Valley coach Zach Goring sent in reserves and starters headed to the bench late in the game, Jones and Goring shared an emotional moment.
"We hugged on the court and we both started crying," Jones said. "That moment meant a lot to both of us. We started together and the program went to places we never imagined. We had gone through so much together, we could finally say that we won a state championship. We wanted to bring that first one to Apple Valley.”
The Eagles also won state titles in 2015 and 2017 during a historic run of success led by Jones, Gary Trent Jr. (now with the Portland Trail Blazers), Tyus' younger brother Tre (who has declared for the NBA draft after two seasons at Duke) and a host of other talented players.
Goring, who recently stepped down after 11 years as head coach, took five teams to the state tournament. He's a homegrown Apple Valley Eagle, graduating from the school in 1995 before playing basketball at St. Cloud State. He was an assistant coach at Apple Valley for seven years before replacing Mike Fritze as the head coach.
Goring, 43, is the father of 11- and 13-year-old children. As they got older he was pulled in two directions – coaching and fatherhood – and his family is the priority.
“When I took the job at Apple Valley I had a two-year-old and a newborn baby,” he said on a recent episode of the Preps Today with John Millea podcast. “That was 11 years ago, and now fast forward to today and I have a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old. I think all coaches come to a point where you're so busy with your own kids and then trying to run a basketball program, and that's just what I ran into.
“So I just felt out of fairness to my kids and also the kids at Apple Valley High School that I'd step away at this time and let them have someone that can really get after it.”
Goring will miss a lot about being a head coach, but not the year-round duties that never seem to let up. In the spring his players had speed and strength training four days a week after school. There were 20 summer workouts plus summer league games. The fall brought more speed and strength training after school, booster club meetings, fundraising and more, followed by a regular season and postseason that can be a grind.
“It just adds up,” Goring said, “and you get moving so fast. I just felt like it was time for me to step back and take a little bit of a breath. It was a very hard decision, one I really wrestled with a lot. But I think it's the right one.”
Goring is forever grateful to Fritze, was the Eagles head coach in football as well as boys basketball; he later became head football coach at the University of Minnesota Crookston. As an assistant coach, Goring ran summer basketball camps at Apple Valley. One day Fritze said to him, “What would you think about you being the head coach and me being your assistant, just flipping roles?” (This photo is of the 2013-14 team.)
Starting with the 2012-13 season and continuing through 2017-18, Apple Valley lost only 14 games over those five campaigns. In two of those seasons the Eagles did not lose after Jan. 1.
“Me and Zach have a great relationship,” Tyus Jones said. “Zach kind of followed me coming up in the grade school system and I think in the back of his mind he wanted to be the head coach one day at Apple Valley. It's kind of crazy how the timing worked out. His first year coaching was my first year playing varsity as an eighth-grader, with both of us not really knowing what to expect for our own individual careers. I think that brought us closer.”
The Jones brothers and Trent were the well-known stars, but Goring coached a long list of other players who went on to play college basketball.
“Obviously Tyus and Tre were the top point guards in the country but we just kind of had every position filled in there for nine years,” he said. “Tom Schalk was a Division 1 player (William and Mary) with us when Tyus was in ninth and 10th grade. Brock Bertram played at Texas Tech, Cam Kirksey had a great college career at Mankato, Dennis Austin played at Upper Iowa, Harry Sonie played at Augsburg, Dustin Fronk at St Thomas. Luke Martens at Winona State, Zach Korba played at Bethel.”
Another former player, Trey Pipkins, is now an offensive lineman with the San Diego Chargers.
“You get groups that come up together and know how to play with each other, and you're bound to have success,” Goring said.
With the highest-profile players drawing interest from the nation’s top college programs, Goring developed relationships with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, Bill Self of Kansas, Tom Izzo at Michigan State and many others.
“It was a treat,” Goring said. “I could tell you so many stories. Coach K would come to open gyms so you're sitting with him in the corner and then Bill Self would walk through the door. Scott Drew from Baylor would be there and Tom Izzo and just all these great names.
“Tyus was going to commit on a Friday and I'm driving to school that Wednesday morning two days before he commits. It’s 6:45 in the morning and my cell phone rings. I answer and this gentleman says, ‘Are you here.’ And I said, ‘No, I'll be there in about 10 minutes, who's this?’ And he says, ‘This is Bill Self, I'll meet you at the gym.’ And he was there, doing his last push to get Tyus. He hopped a plane at 4:30 in the morning from Kansas and zipped up here to try to lure Tyus to Kansas.”
Goring – who operates a busy landscaping and lawn care business and works as a substitute teacher at Apple Valley -- doesn’t offer any guarantees that he will be able to completely stay away from high school basketball, even next season, although he doesn’t want to work as a head coach right now.
“I might coach somewhere else, maybe showing up in November and spending two hours at the gym and then being able to go home at night,” he said. “The year-round thing just kind of wore me out and I didn't think that I could commit to that.”--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn, listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio.