Jon Scheyer has won 225 basketball games in his high school and college career. Not only did Scheyer help his Glenbrook North High basketball team to a Class AA state basketball championship his junior year in Illinois, but he was a senior leader on the Duke team that cut down the nets after the 2010 NCAA National Championship.
Winning is what drives Scheyer to succeed, he told us in a recent interview with The Rookie Wall.
“The reason I’ve played my whole career is to win, so to win at your high school level is great, and to win in the college level is a really big accomplishment and is something I’m really excited about,” said Scheyer of his two championships.
Despite having a ton of high school success, many questioned Scheyer’s strength and ability at the next level because he was a tall but scrawny kid. Coach Krzyzewski, the legendary coach at Duke, was the one person that saw through his slight frame and saw the leadership and intangibles Scheyer possessed.
Coach K found the perfect ringleader for his Duke team in Scheyer. He taught Scheyer all the things required to be successful on the court, and those lessons certainly led to Duke’s success the past four years with Scheyer at guard.
“[M]y basketball knowledge has gone up tremendously since [playing] for [Coach K],” said Scheyer of what he’s learned through the years under Coach K. “Just about being a great teammate, and just being accountable.”
With all of that winning, Scheyer had an impressive college career for the Dukies; but we all know you need a National Title to really leave your mark at Cameron Indoor. In addition to cementing a legacy at Duke, winning the National Championship this year would lead to a truly special moment. When the Duke Men’s Basketball team went to the White House to honor their NCAA National Championship, President Obama shocked Scheyer, and his teammates, when he called Scheyer his “homeboy,” since the President had been following him since his high school days in Chicago.
“[T]hat was probably the coolest moment of my life,” said Scheyer of President Obama referring to him as his homeboy.
Currently working out in Chicago with Josh Oppenheimer to improve his game, specifically his ball handling, Scheyer is ready for the road ahead. He knows he’ll have to face the stigma attached to Duke players (which he addresses in the interview), but with his former teammates and friends J.J. Redick and Gerald Henderson to call on for advice, Scheyer has the support to leave his mark on this draft class, just like he did with the Blue Devils.
Below is a transcript of the interview The Rookie Wall had with Jon Scheyer:
The Rookie Wall: How does it feel to be one of only a handful of players to lead their high school and college team to championship wins?
Jon Scheyer: It feels great you know. The reason I’ve played my whole career is to win and so to win at your high school level is great and to win in the college level is a really big accomplishment and is something I’m really excited about.
TRW: Which championship are you more proud of?
JS: I’m proud of both. I think both teams, I don’t know if many people picked us to win at either level which makes it a little bit sweeter. But just because it’s on a bigger level, more players, and tougher to do, you know to be frank, the National Championship I am very proud of.
TRW: What was it like going to the White House to honor your National Championship?
JS: It was one of the coolest experiences of my life. Being able to meet President Obama and to shake his hand and get to meet him and just to see the White House and seeing Washington. It was a really cool experience that I will never forget.
TRW: How did it feel when President Obama called you his “homeboy” since you’re both from Chicago?
JS: [Laughter] Well that was probably the coolest moment of my life. [President Obama] caught me off guard when he said “my homeboy.” First he said it when he introduced himself to all of us; he said “you know my homeboy I’ve been following him since high school days.” That’s a pretty cool thing and definitely I think my teammates were joked by that one. [Laughter]
TRW: What made you select Duke over other schools?
JS: For me, I had a better idea of the guys I’d be playing with at Duke and Coach K and Cameron Indoor Stadium that speaks for itself. But I knew the players that I was going to be there with and I thought they were great people and great players so that played a big part in my decision to go there.
TRW: What did you learn playing under Coach K for four years?
JS: I learned a lot of little things playing under [Coach K]. You know, obviously you play the X’s and O’s but how to be a great teammate, the little things to winning teams. How important possessions are down the stretch. Really, my basketball knowledge has gone up tremendously since I played for [Coach K]. Just about being, like I said, a great teammate, and just being accountable.
TRW: Do you think Coach K will ever leave Duke to coach in the NBA?
JS: He’s had some great opportunities up to this point. Being able to coach the Lakers with Kobe Bryant and [there’s] a lot of money doing that, so if he didn’t leave for those jobs then I don’t know what job he’d leave for. So, I think he’s pretty happy at Duke.
TRW: How do you respond to the criticism of Duke players not being as successful in the NBA as they were in college?
JS: I don’t know how I respond. You see guys like Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Grant Hill, I mean I could go on and on, Shane Battier. I feel that whoever says those guys aren’t successful I don’t know what you would call them. I think there’s many great players to go on to the NBA from Duke, I just think the expectations are so high because I think Duke year in and year out performs at that high level so I just think expectations are really high but there are many successful players.
TRW: You missed the combine due to mono, how are you feeling now and do you think you’ll be at 100% from here on out for individual workouts?
JS: Well, I’m definitely feeling better. [Mono] had me out for about two weeks and I don’t think I have been that sick since probably high school, probably freshman year of high school. Obviously it’s not the best time, but I really can’t afford to miss any more time. I just started to get back out there and started working out this past week and I’m feeling better. I just got to get through it and make the most of the opportunities from here on out.
TRW: You signed with Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports, how did you come to that decision?
JS: Mark, I feel, is great to work with. I met with him when he came down to Duke, and I felt he had a great understanding of who I was as a player and you know who I am as a person. I think that’s important going through this process and my career is to know what I am all about and what I want to accomplish throughout my career. He had a great understanding. You look at the clients he’s had and what he’s done speaks for itself. He had the experience, and on top of him understanding me, there was no doubt on my end.
TRW: With only a few Jewish players ever to play in the NBA, what would it mean to you to be part of that company?
JS: Well, for me, there’s not that many players that can say they played in the NBA, let alone religion. So, for me, it would just be great to be able to say that. Religion is fine. I don’t really worry about that. If it gives some kids or some Jewish kids a reason to look up to me or to identify with that’s great, but it’s not something I think about and not something I want to stand out for.
TRW: If the NBA doesn’t work out, it has been reported that you are seriously considering playing in Israel, perhaps signing before the draft. Can you speak at all about that?
JS: I’m just focused on playing in the NBA. I don’t know where those reports come from but I’m just, the NBA has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid and really that’s all I have been focusing on.
TRW: Where are you currently working out, and what parts of your game are you focusing on?
JS: I’m working out in Chicago right now with Josh Oppenheimer is his name and Ryan Thompson, those two guys. Basically, I am just trying to get better. Overall, staying really, you know, well get back in really good shape because of the mono . . . and really improve my ball handling and just try and, you know, get a feel for the way the NBA game is. I think it’s a lot different from college, how many pick and rolls there are, the different positions you do pick and rolls with. That’s the stuff I’m trying to work on and get better overall.
TRW: Are you working out at ATTACK [Athletics]?
JS: No, I’m working out at a gym called FFC [Fitness Formula Clubs].
TRW: In the championship game against Butler, Gordon Hayward (a fellow Priority Sports client) almost hit a half-court shot to win the game. What do you think of Hayward declaring for the draft and what do you think of his game?
JS: Obviously it’s his decision to declare or not. He’s a great player regardless so it’s just fine either way. And he’s tough, I mean, going up against him in the Championship game, he was a handful and tough guy to guard. Obviously it shows you, he almost threw in that last shot, that he just wants to win and he wants do whatever it takes. So, you know, he’s going to have a great successful career.
TRW: You said earlier that you were currently in Milwaukee to workout with the Bucks. Have you worked out for any NBA teams yet?
JS: I haven’t, I haven’t because of the mono.
TRW: What workouts, besides Milwaukee, do you have lined up?
JS: Well, I have a lot of workouts lined up right now. I’m planning on going to the New Jersey group workout next week. Then Milwaukee, Chicago. I’m going to probably about ten different teams, so it’s a lot but, you know, I’m just trying to fit in as many as I can before the draft.
TRW: Is there anything specific that scouts would like to see you be able to do that you are trying to work on?
JS: Yea, I just want to show them that I can play. All I can do is play as hard as I can, as well as I can, and that’s all I can control. I’m sure teams have different concerns but I just want to show them the type of player I am and hopefully they like it enough.
TRW: Have you spoken with any former Duke players about the draft process, and if so, what have they told you?
JS: Yea, you know, I’ve talked to a few players. J.J. Redick, throughout my whole career . . . we’ve talked a lot. One of my best friends is here, Gerald Henderson, so we’ve talked about the process a little bit. So, they’ve been good about this whole thing.
TRW: What are you hearing about your draft position at this point, or is it just too early to tell at this stage?
JS: Yea, right now I have no idea. You know, I’ve been talking with Mark [Bartelstein] and I think it’s a little too early. And really, I haven’t had one workout yet so hopefully after I get a couple under my belt I’ll have a better idea of where I’ll go but right now it’s a little too early to say.
TRW: Are there any last things you would like to add or tell your fans about you?
JS: Just that obviously it’s been a quick turnaround since the Championship but there’s been a lot of support thrown my way from different fans and people so I appreciate that. And hopefully I move on to another great part to my career so I just appreciate all the support.