NORTHBROOK, Ill. - Every sense tells you that you are sitting in a high school gym north of Chicago. But your eyes and ears help your can easily make your mind believe you are in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
As Duke recruit Jon Scheyer and his Glenbrook North High teammates take the floor for the tipoff of Friday night's game against Niles North, the Spartans' student section is on its feet, bouncing up and down, and doing the O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h chant.
At the start of the second quarter, with the reigning Illinois Class AA champions enjoying a 29-12 lead with the help of Scheyer's 16 points, the students go with the
ol' "Schey-er's win-ning" serenade.
It is pretty easy to imagine hearing, "Jon Scheyer" over Cameron P.A. system after a basket. Starting in October,
that will happen. Often.
Friday was an "average" night for Scheyer. He hit his average of 34 points a game on button in the Spartans' 89-58 victory. He got there - by my counts - by making 9 of 17 field goal attempts (2 of 4 from 3-point range) and 13 of 15 free throws. Saturday night, he went for 43 points (plus 5 assists and 5 rebounds as reported by the Chicago papers) in an 82-56 victory over Prospect North that put the Spartans at 10-0.
Despite his 16-point first quarter Friday, it looked as though the 6-foot-6 guard was trying to get his teammates involved at the start.
"My teammates kept getting open, and I kept feeding it to them," Scheyer said. "We're going to take whatever the defense gives us, and I think there were a bunch open shots for everybody."
Scheyer moves well without the ball. He can put the ball on the floor and easily goes into the lane, where he can finish or pull up for the jumper. He looks smooth doing either.
Oh, by the way, Scheyer is playing with a sprained right thumb sustained during the preseason. You'd never know it, especially when he's at the free throw line. His shots barely disturb the net as they pass through (he did have one that kind of rattled in Friday).
"I'm getting used to it," Scheyer said of his thumb problem. "In the beginning of the year, it was hard to adjust to. But I'm really getting used to it."
It didn't take Scheyer long to get used to the relative peace and quiet that comes with having his recruiting done.
"It's nice," he said. "I can just focus on playing and being with my teammates. It's real nice to have it over with."
Before Friday's game, Scheyer was honored by Glenbrook North for breaking the all-time scoring record held by a fellow named Chris Collins. Way back when, Scheyer watched Collins play in the school's green and gold.
"Watching Chris Collins play, I would dream of being in his shoes one day and breaking his records, winning state championships," said Scheyer, who with his 2,450 points is speeding away from Collins' total of 2,157. "I know there's another kid watching me and I think that's what's exciting about it."
The was some good-natured chops busting from the Duke assistant.
"He sent me a text message today," Scheyer said. "He was complaining that he didn't get a ceremony when he became the all-time leading scorer. He said if it could have been anyone (to break his record), I'm glad it was you."
He keeps in touch with the Duke coaching staff and players as time permits.
"I talk to coach Collins a lot, close to every day," he said. "I talk to Coach K. Coach K and I keep in contact every two weeks, probably. I try to keep in touch with the players. J.J., Josh and Greg as much as I can, but it's hard with both of our schedules."
As many of you know, Scheyer's prep coach is Dave Weber, brother of Illinois coach Bruce Weber. There was a great deal of talk that Dave Weber should have been able to "deliver" Scheyer to the Illini. I think it says a lot about Dave Weber and Scheyer that they are able to thrive under what could be termed, at the very least, as trying conditions.
Weber does not see any holes in his best player's game.
"He will just get stronger," Weber said. "I think that's the only thing that's going to happen. He's going to add weight (he looks to be a bit south of 200 pounds), and it's really going to make a difference at the college game. When he can come off that screen and rise up and hit that quick 3, he's just so good. He's good at penetrating, and he finds his teammates.
"I can't say that there's a flaw in his game."
He has seen a different Scheyer this season.
"Big improvement," Weber said. "He had a great year last year, but he's so much quicker on that first step. He's stronger. He shoots the a little bit quicker off the screens. His first step. That's the big difference. He's just a little quicker with that first step."