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Duke Recruiting And How It’s Going To Change

Jon Scheyer is simultaneously establishing himself and thinking way ahead, which is impressive.

Notre Dame v Duke
 DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 14: Head coach Jon Scheyer of the Duke Blue Devils takes a lap around the court after a win against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 14, 2023 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 68-64.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Athletic has a nice piece up on how Jon Scheyer plans to change Duke recruiting.

He’s tipped his hand on this before, saying something like obviously, being this young is not ideal. It’s inevitable though if you do the one-and-done thing that Duke has done since Kyrie Irving came through in 2010-11.

Here’s what Scheyer told Dana O’ Neill: “I feel really good about what we’ve done, and what we’re doing, but going forward, to me, it’s important that we have continuity from season to season. From a culture perspective, it’s hard to do in college basketball, but we feel we can do it in a really good way, while still recruiting differently. I don’t think we’ll recruit as many freshmen in a class going forward.’’

The game has changed, several times actually. As O’Neill points out, in Scheyer’s relatively short time in the game, he’s seen the one-and-done rule put in by the NBA, the resulting one-and-done era, and now the transfer portal and NIL hitting at pretty much the same time.

We have no doubt that a young Mike Krzyzewski would quickly figure out what to do in this era, but who wants to start over in their mid-70s?

However, it’s hard to imagine Scheyer not having long conversations with Coach K about how the game is evolving and how to adapt.

That said, he’s highly intelligent. If only because of his youth, Scheyer is going to see things that Krzyzewski might have seen but might not have had the time or energy to address.

There has been a small number of people - well, that’s our impression but there’s no real way to count online idiots, sadly, or how effective they are - who expect Scheyer to not only be Coach K but that things cannot change. We even saw one Steinbrenner wanna-be who wanted to fire him.

That’s all so dumb. First, obviously Scheyer can’t be Coach K. Second, even if a 33-year-old Coach K walked through that door, he wouldn’t do things the same way that 73-year-old Coach K did things. Things never stay the same and coaches who do don’t coach for long.

One of the most exciting aspects of Scheyer’s rise is that he’s young and able to adapt to things. Or really it’s not so much that he’s adapting to changing circumstances. It’s that he’s grown up in these times. He’s young enough, as he says, to have been in the same high school class as Kevin Durant. He’s also young enough to understand the changes that led to NIL from a player’s perspective. Unlike Krzyzewski, he’s sniffed the NBA as a player before his eye injury put an end to that.

In short, we have no doubt that Krzyzewski could have adapted to the changes we’re seeing now - just not at 75.

Scheyer is 40 years his junior. He lives in this Brave New World and has since he was a teenager.

In one of Coach K’s books, he talked about paying attention to rap so that he could make an informed comment about something his players were listening to. In Scheyer’s case, he might have those songs on shuffle too.

And you can move past the basic structural changes to the game and look at some other things too where Scheyer fits right in. Texting? Sure. Updating his phone on the road? Obviously. Finding new apps that help him professionally? Obviously. Diving into a spreadsheet personally? Probably, but if he doesn’t know how, someone can teach him what he needs to know in less than 20 minutes.

In short, Scheyer probably doesn’t need a lot of tech support for anything. That sounds like a minor thing, but it isn’t. He’s in tune with the age in a way that, for all his many gifts and deep understanding of human nature, Krzyzewski would find much more difficult, as many members of his generation have as the pace of change only increases.

That Scheyer continues to look at things with fresh eyes is great news for Duke Basketball and college ball in general.