Duke basketball program cannot afford to lose Jon Scheyer

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

As hype builds around the current top protégé of Coach K, so too does the worry over what would be at stake for the future of Duke basketball should he soon land a top job elsewhere.

The 2014-15 Duke basketball season was the first for Jon Scheyer as a full-fledged assistant and, of course, coincided with the program’s fifth national championship. Five seasons earlier, the “Jewish Jordan” out of the suburbs of Chicago served as the senior point guard for the fourth.

All a coincidence? Not entirely, that’s for sure.

Now entering his second season as the right-hand man to Mike Krzyzewski, the 32-year-old associate head coach is essential to the 2019-20 Blue Devils’ development. That being said, should Scheyer help develop the squad all the way to a national championship, he would likely attain first-choice status for major programs seeking the next Coach K.

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On Tuesday, NBC Sports named Scheyer one of the 16 college coaches under 40 most likely to be “the biggest names in the sport ten years from now.”

Ball Durham agrees with the assessment, which is why it is imperative for the powers that be in Durham to do whatever it takes — a raise, an early promise, whatever — to ensure no program outside of Durham ever names Scheyer as its head coach. His name should — no, must — be the next one to follow the words “Duke basketball head coach.”

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Not only is he the youngest of the potential candidates, but he’s also the nerdiest. And in terms of his basketball mind, he’s the ideal nerd: sharp enough to understand the importance of analytics while also acknowledging the fact that 99.9 percent of players don’t share his four-eyes way of thinking.

"“Analytics is an amazing tool,” Scheyer told Solving Basketball’s Jordan Sperber on Wednesday, “but situationally and as a player, you need to be able to follow your instincts. It’s not going to perfect. At the end of the day, you want to be No. 1 at everything, and you want to do everything the right way, but that can’t substitute you not following your instinct or you being robotic.“Players need to play.”"

In terms of finding players who can play, he’s sat among the top five on the 247Sports Recruiter Rankings the past two recruiting cycles and is currently No. 1 for the 2020 class. His success in this respect seems to lie in his unique mix of charisma, honesty, and keen eye for “Duke material.”

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In terms of extra goodies — such as his make-no-excuses attitude, mental fortitude, and controlled emotions — two records from Scheyer’s playing days imply he’ll require zero sick days and potentially remain in tip-top shape on the Blue Devils’ bench another 50 years: he set a Duke basketball record with his 144 consecutive games played and an ACC single-season record with his 1,470 minutes played as a senior.

Finally, in terms of wisdom, that will come in time — no matter where he’s at. However, the more years Scheyer spends by the side of the wisest of all, the quicker his own record-breaking wisdom might arrive. Based on his comments concerning how to coach in general, it appears he’s already wise enough to appreciate the wisdom Coach K has bestowed upon him thus far.

"“The last thing you want to do is overthink or be cautious,” Scheyer remarked to Sperber. “End of the day, we want our guys to not be afraid and to go out there and just give it their all…that’s one of the things I’ve learned from Coach throughout the years.“I think he does that better than anybody.”"

Nobody, though, would be better than Scheyer in helping Coach K close out his career in GOAT-like fashion and then maintaining the same level of success for the enjoyment of those Duke basketball fans who are still years from being born.

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