“I don’t expect this to be easy. I don’t expect to be given anything. We do not expect to be given anything. But I’m always going to show up and do whatever it takes to succeed at the highest level here, with the standard that’s been set at Duke.”
That’s Jon Scheyer talking today at an event unique in Duke sports history.
Duke formally introduced Jon Scheyer as the Coach in Waiting for Duke’s men’s basketball. Scheyer hit all the right notes, discussing both the upcoming transition season and the post-Krzyzewski era.
Outgoing AD Kevin White said that Duke employed Todd Turner’s Collegiate Sports Associates to lead the search for Mike Krzyzewski’s replacement, as they have for every Duke coaching vacancy during White’s tenure at Duke.
In fact, White said he’s been gathering information concerning Krzyzewski’s eventual replacement for a decade.
He called them “pre-procurement activities. We’ve long been studying the marketplace.”
The formal search lasted around ten days and Scheyer had to earn it; he underwent three interviews.
So, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, Duke went a long way from home only to discover it already had what it wanted.
“Best in class relative to the next generation,” White summed up. “Simply put, an outstanding contemporary leader within college coaching.”
Scheyer seemed genuinely surprised and touched that former Duke teammates Gerald Henderson, Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas showed up.
“I’ve been overwhelmed with the love, the emotion of our former players, our brotherhood, these last couple of days,” Scheyer said. “I didn’t even know these guys were coming.”
There was lots of talk yesterday and today about continuity of culture and the advantages of having lots of former Blue Devils at his side. And Scheyer went out of his way to express his love for and appreciation for everything Duke has done for him, everything Duke has meant to him.
He’s a lifer.
But he also acknowledged that he’s taking over a volatile time in the college-basketball-landscape, with Name-Image-Likeness, the transfer portal, the maturation of the G-League, the possible amendment of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, all churning the waters.
Scheyer noted that there’s always been change but “obviously, this is a time where it’s changed more than ever. I think it’s changing for the better. It’s a great time for our players. I think Duke and I think our program is in the best position to move forward in this new landscape, with NIL, with the competing leagues, the professional leagues. It’s great to have those options for kids. It’s great. The right kids will still want to come to Duke. I feel confident in that. Nolan [Smith], Chris [Carrawell] and I have talked about it, we’ve talked about it with coach [Krzyzewski], building a team where we have a balance with stability, with older players. That’s been a great recipe for us, as well as really talented players who may go on to do amazing things sooner. Duke is in an amazing position to move forward.”
Now, if you’re looking for a subtext, maybe there’s one. If you’re looking for it. But Scheyer added that he and his assistants are “incredibly protective over who comes into our program.”
Scheyer didn’t just stumble into this job. He said he’s long seen himself as a head coach.
Zoubek gave an impromptu media availability after Scheyer had left the podium and said Scheyer’s teammates saw this even then.
“I’ve seen his progression at K Academy every single year. He pretty much dominates it. I’ve seen him really mature as a coach, so I’m not at all surprised to see him get this job. I’m really excited and proud for the rest of the world to see how good he is.”
I’ll give Scheyer the last word.
“I look forward to earning that trust.”