With 33 year old Jon Scheyer tapped as Dukes new head coach following this upcoming season it’s clear what the the challenges will be and also the advantages. Scheyer has been on the Duke staff since the 2013-14 and has seen his share of moments as a player where he averaged 14.4 points a game and was named All-America and first-team All-ACC honors as a senior during Duke’s 2010 title run. As a special assistant and coach he was there as Duke again won a title ion 2015. Jon has been the principal recruiter for some of the biggest names to cross into Durham during his time on the trail including Jayson Tatum and Zion Williamson and you can nary name a Blue Devil guard in the NBA that Scheyer hasn’t had a huge hand in developing in some form or fashion.
There are those that will immediately dismiss the hiring of Scheyer due to his lack of head coaching experience and it is entirely true that hasn’t been a part of his resume but that sort of thinking minimizes what Jon Scheyer has meant to this program both as a player and as a coach. There has been no better seat of witness to this coaching acumen than Coach K himself and to think that Coach K would hand his program off to someone he didn’t deem worthy is asinine. Obviously success isn’t guaranteed, whether you go with a 10 year veteran coach or you look to youth but for Scheyer the groundwork has been laid and his path has been clear for quite a few years now.
The obvious challenges are, when taking the reins after a legend, are expectations both from the Duke Administration and fans alike. One would hope considering Duke’s history and decisions made to keep Coach Mike Krzyzewski after an outpouring of fans and alum called for his firing just three years into his tenure at Duke, would always be in the back of their collective minds. Currently this fanbase longs for and expects success and has shown very little patience for anything aside from perfection which is a fact in any program of Duke’s stature. They may need to take a breath, accept that Duke may go through some growing pains, because that, and not the continual success year after year is normal.
We know the road won’t be easy but there are several factors that should aid Coach Scheyer as he assumes control:
- Duke has top-notch facilities, truly second to none and they athletic department has done a stellar job embracing technology and making sure that their players and staff do not lack for anything in that regard. Duke is a professional environment in that regard.
- A new young athletic director in Nina King who understands fully embraces change and is equipped to be a strong advocate of and for Duke Basketball.
- Relationships. During his time at Duke Scheyer has fostered, maintained and utilized his relationships to aid in building a recruiting juggernaut. Obviously losing K will impact this but there is a benefit of having a youthful, energetic head coach and a staff that are more ready to relate to young men.
- The brand. Duke has created a brand borne of both success, visibility and culture that is bar none in college basketball today. Coach K was a huge chunk of that brand but each season as Duke players come and go, they leave as ambassadors. Duke has done an excellent job sending program ambassadors into the NBA, the business world and beyond. That type of visibility holds water in terms of recruiting and with the onset of NIL will be a huge advantage. Coach K’s former Blue Devil players have amassed more than $2 billion in NBA contracts. Blue Devil lottery selections have combined to earn more than $1.6 billion in contracts
Patience will be the key for Jon Scheyer’s future at Duke. There will be the inevitable trials and tribulations as with any tenure but the hope is that Duke will be different, as an athletic department, in how they handle that adversity. Do they cut and run at the first opportunity or do they extend the leash and allow Jon Scheyer to grow into the role. What we do know is there is no replacing Coach Mike Krzyzewski but there is still the job of coaching Duke Men’s Basketball.