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Who is Jon Scheyer? Meet the Duke head coach with the impossible task of replacing Coach K

Who is Jon Scheyer? Meet the Duke head coach with the impossible task of replacing Coach K
Sports1 min read
Duke head coach Jon Scheyer.AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman
  • Mike Krzyzewski retired after 42 seasons as Duke Blue Devils head coach, following a Final Four run in 2022.
  • Coach K had won five national championships, 15 ACC Tournaments, and more games than any other Division I coach.
  • Former Duke captain and longtime assistant coach Jon Scheyer took over the helm this season.

Jon Scheyer was born and raised in Northbrook, Illinois.

He showed an aptitude for basketball from an early age.

In middle school, he was already competing against the region's top players and met Coach K for the first time.

But by the end of 8th grade, he was 6-foot-4 and playing pickup games against Dwyane Wade.

But by the end of 8th grade, he was 6-foot-4 and playing pickup games against Dwyane Wade.
Dwyane Wade (with the ball) in college at Marquette.      Morry Gash/AP

"He is so incredible," Scheyer told The Chicago Tribune of Wade, five years his senior. "I went to the basket one time, and he just took it from me. [Marquette] coach Tom Crean laughed and said, 'That's what happens when you go against an All-American.'

"[Wade] was telling me all the different things I could try to do against him. I never learned that much about basketball in one day. I guess I did OK."

The then-Marquette coach offered Scheyer a scholarship on the spot — an early sign of what was to come.

The then-Marquette coach offered Scheyer a scholarship on the spot — an early sign of what was to come.
Then-Marquette head coach Tom Crean, who is now the coach at Georgia.      Ann Heisenfelt/AP

Scheyer tried not to focus too much on the attention he was getting from major NCAA programs. He avoided recruiting websites, per The Chicago Tribune, and challenged himself against stronger competition, like stars of the Illinois Fighting Illini.

Scheyer spurned bigger high schools and stayed close to home.

Scheyer spurned bigger high schools and stayed close to home.
YouTube/IHSA Archives

Scheyer's family could follow the path many others had taken and enroll their budding star at one of the Chicago high schools known for their basketball programs — where he'd get more exposure and, hopefully, the scholarship offers he coveted — or they could stay the course back home at Northbrook's own Glenbrook North, as Scheyer himself wanted.

"We'll just do it here," Jim recalled his son saying. "We'll build the success at Glenbrook North.

"I get chills thinking about it," he added to The Fayetteville Observer. "That wasn't my vision. It wasn't Laury's. It wasn't his coaches'. That was Jon's vision, and it never occurred to him that anything else would happen."

He was a two-time Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year in high school.

In his junior year, Scheyer led the team to an improbable state championship.

 

Competing against those very same powerhouses where he was promised more exposure and more glory, Scheyer averaged 25.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 4.1 assists on the season, per The Chicago Tribune, and led Glenbrook North to a title-winning 32-2 season, scoring 27 points in the championship game.

College decision came down to Duke and Illinois

College decision came down to Duke and Illinois
Jon Scheyer in high school.      Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

He was named Mr. Basketball in Illinois his senior season and played in the 2006 McDonald's All American game. Arizona and Wisconsin were also among the finalists to land Scheyer, but he ultimately chose Duke.

Scheyer enjoyed immediate success as a player at Duke.

Scheyer enjoyed immediate success as a player at Duke.
G Fiume/Getty Images

Scheyer, a 6-foot-5 guard, was a key contributor for the Blue Devils in all four seasons with the team, including three as a starter. He made the ACC All-Freshman team his first season, and during his junior year, he was a member of the ACC All-Tournament team.

In his first few seasons, he was probably most famous outside of Durham for making odd faces while playing.

In his first few seasons, he was probably most famous outside of Durham for making odd faces while playing.
The many faces of Jon Scheyer.      Getty Images

Opposing fans had fun with the faces.

Opposing fans had fun with the faces.
Ted Richardson/Raleigh News & Observer/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

He blossomed in his senior year.

He blossomed in his senior year.
Duke won the 2009-10 national championship.      Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Scheyer had his best season as a senior, leading the Blue Devils in scoring (18.2 ppg) and assists (4.9 apg). He was a second-team All-American and a finalist for the Wooden Award. But most importantly, he led the Blue Devils to a 35-5 record and the national championship.

He was nearly teammates with LeBron James in the NBA.

He was nearly teammates with LeBron James in the NBA.
Jon Scheyer with the Miami Heat Summer League team in 2010.      YouTube/scheyerchive

Scheyer went undrafted but played for the Miami Heat in the Summer League. The Heat had just signed LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh and were looking for some cheaper players to fill out the roster.

Unfortunately for Scheyer, he suffered a freak injury during just his second game in the Summer League when he was poked in the eye. He injured his optic nerve and his retina was detached.

After failing to make the NBA, he spent time in the D-League

After failing to make the NBA, he spent time in the D-League
Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Scheyer failed to make an NBA roster as he recovered from the eye injury. Late in the season, he signed with the NBA D-League's Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He was forced to wear goggles to protect his injured eye.

The following year he signed a 2-year deal with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Europe.

The following year he signed a 2-year deal with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Europe.
Uriel Sinai/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

With the Euroleague's Maccabi Tel Aviv, Scheyer was coached by future Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt.

Scheyer gained Israeli citizenship to help the Maccabi roster.

Scheyer gained Israeli citizenship to help the Maccabi roster.
YouTube/Maccabi Tel Aviv Basketball

With limits on the number of foreign players allowed on the team, Scheyer gained Israeli citizenship thanks to his family's Jewish heritage.

After a brief stint on the Philadelphia 76ers' Summer League team in 2012, he played one season with Gran Canaria in Spain.

In 2013, he returned to Duke to begin his coaching career as a special assistant.

In 2013, he returned to Duke to begin his coaching career as a special assistant.
Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Assistant Coach Jon Scheyer of the Duke Blue Devils      Lance King/Getty Images

Coach K clearly saw a bright coaching future for Scheyer.

Coach K clearly saw a bright coaching future for Scheyer.
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski with coaching staff (L-R)associate head coach Jeff Capel and assistant Jon Scheyer.      Porter Binks /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

In just his second season coaching, Scheyer took one of the highly coveted seats on the bench next to Krzyzewski. Former Duke player and current University of Pittsburgh head coach Jeff Capel had the other as the associate head coach.

Duke won their fifth national championship that season.

In 2019, Scheyer replaced Capel as one of Duke's associate head coaches.

In 2019, Scheyer replaced Capel as one of Duke
Chris Keane /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

When Capel left for the head coaching job at Pitt, Scheyer was named co-associate head coach along with Nate James.

Scheyer was named Coach K's replacement under eyebrow-raising circumstances

Scheyer was named Coach K
Former Duke player and assistant coach Tommy Amaker is now the head coach at Harvard.      Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When Coach K decided to retire following the 2021-22 season, the school reportedly wanted to hire former player and current Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker. However, Krzyzewski pushed for Scheyer and won the power struggle, according to the book "Coach K: The Rise and Reign of Mike Krzyzewski," written by Ian O'Connor.

According to the book, Coach K called Amaker to give him the news in what was described as "a very difficult conversation." Amaker was said to be "heartbroken" after the call.

Scheyer's recruiting prowess may have swayed Coach K.

Scheyer
Jon Scheyer talks to his players during a game.      Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Scheyer was credited with doing most of the work that landed Duke's No. 1 recruiting classes in 2022 and 2023. There may have been some concern that Duke would have lost some of those players if they hired Amaker and Scheyer left the program. He was also credited with recruiting standout players Jayson Tatum and Zion Williamson to Duke earlier in his coaching career.

Picking Scheyer looks good so far.

Picking Scheyer looks good so far.
Jon Scheyer cuts down the net after Duke won the ACC Tournament.      Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Scheyer, still just 35 years old, is one of the youngest head coaches in men's college basketball and the youngest at a school in one of the power conferences.

In Scheyer's first season at the helm, he led Duke to a 26-8 record — including two wins against bitter rival UNC — a championship in the ACC Tournament, and a 5-seed in the NCAA Tournament, where they are a trendy pick to reach the Final Four.

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