How Jon Scheyer rose from Duke ‘special assistant’ to Mike Krzyzewski’s successor in eight years

Just 11 years removed from leading Duke to the 2010 NCA A Tournament championship as a player, Jon Scheyer will soon be put in position to lead the Blue Devils to national prominence again. This time, it won’t be as the team’s captain but instead as the program’s 20th coach.

The university announced Wednesday that Scheyer has been tabbed to will replace Mike Krzyzewski once Coach K retires following the 2021-22 season.

“Duke University has been a central part of my life for more than a decade, and I could not ask for a better place to continue my career,” said Scheyer. “This is absolutely humbling. First, I offer extreme gratitude to the greatest coach of all time whose career is unrivaled in basketball. Coach K has built the premier program in our sport thanks to his unwavering competitive edge, a tireless attention to detail, a family-first approach and a remarkable compassion and care of his players, coaches, and staff. He has set a standard that every coach at every level should strive to achieve. … It is an honor to call this great institution my alma mater, and I’m deeply committed to furthering its academic and athletics excellence while continuing the championship legacy of Duke Basketball.”

At just 33, Scheyer is a decade younger than the ACC’s current youngest head coach, Georgia Tech’s Josh Pastner, and he will become one of the youngest Division I coaches in the country. However, a look at back at the last 15 years of Scheyer’s playing and coaching career illustrate why Krzyzewski might be comfortable handing the reins of an illustrious program to someone so young.

Scheyer isn’t just Krzyzewski’s current associate head coach; he is a storied former player for the legendary coach and a blossoming recruiter who, in theory, could seamlessly transition to the head role and lead the program in a time of transition for college basketball.

The player

Ranked as a four-star prospect in the Class of 2006 by the 247Sports Composite, Scheyer signed with Duke out of Glenbrook North High School near Chicago and quickly took on a key role by starting and averaging 12.2 points per game as a freshman. He ultimately appeared in 144 games during his college career, which culminated with Duke’s national title run in 2010.

Scheyer was the leading scorer as a senior for that team, which finished 35-5 and secured Krzyzewski’s fourth title with a 61-59 win over Butler in the national championship game. He finished his career with 2,077 career points, which ranks 10th on the program’s all-time scoring list.

As a 6-foot-5 guard, Scheyer was known for his 3-point shooting and still ranks fourth all-time in program history for both 3-point attempts and makes, bBut he also flashed his distributing skills as a senior by handing out 4.9 assists per game.

The path back to Duke

After going undrafted in 2010, Scheyer suffered a serious injury to his right eye while playing with the Miami Heat in an NBA Summer League game. The incident left him legally blind but did not derail his playing ambitions. Scheyer played in the G League and overseas from 2011-13 until joining the Duke staff as a special assistant for the 2013-14 season. He assisted in developing game plans, breaking down film and in planning practices, according to program archives.

“I am extremely fortunate to be able to come back to Duke,” Scheyer said at the time. “It is a tremendous honor to be on Coach K’s staff and it is something I will cherish. I want to continue to learn from the entire staff and bring whatever I can to help the program.”

The coaching rise

When Duke associate head coach Steve Wojciechowski left to become Marquette’s coach after the 2013-14 season, Krzyzewski promoted Jeff Capel to the role and Scheyer to fill Capel’s vacated assistant spot. 

“We are ecstatic about Jon joining the staff,” Krzyzewski said at the time. “He was one of the great players to play at Duke: a national champion and a captain not that far removed so he adds a youthful exuberance to our staff. His knowledge of the game is incredible. I think he will be a terrific teach and an outstanding recruiter.” 

When Capel left to take the head coaching job at Pittsburgh after the 2017-18 season, Scheyer and Nate James were promoted to associate head coaches, continuing Krzyzewski’s preference of relying on his former players in key staff roles. 

“Nate and Jon are former captains who clearly understand Duke and our culture,” Krzyzewski said at the time. “They’re both national champions who’ve played an integral role in our success over the past two decades. As good as they were as players, and they were both excellent, they have been remarkable, distinguished and instinctive coaches who have earned this opportunity. With Nate and Jon assuming additional responsibilities in their associate head coach roles, I am excited about the makeup of our staff moving forward.”

James was named the coach at Austin Peay in April, clearing the runway for Scheyer as the natural successor to Krzyzewski if the program opted to hire from within upon Krzyzewski’s retirement.

If not at Duke, it was clear that Scheyer was destined to become a head coach elsewhere at some point, if he wanted. Though just now approaching his mid-30s, Scheyer was rumored to be among Pittsburgh’s candidates in 2018 when Capel ultimately got the job. His name also came up in the rumor mill during this year’s coaching carousel in connection with the DePaul job.

Considering Scheyer’s growing reputation as a top recruiter, it’s no surprise that he’s drawn interest from other programs. Among the prospects he’s helped bring to Duke as a primary recruiter are Jayson Tatum, Cam Reddish, Vernon Carey and 2021 five-star forward Paolo Banchero, according to 247Sports. He was also the secondary recruiter for Zion Williamson.

Scheyer is also credited with helping develop recent Duke stars such as Tyus Jones, Luke Kennard, Frank Jackson and Grayson Allen into NBA Draft picks.


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