One of the most effective aspects of the Duke basketball program over the years has been the continuity of the coaching staff. Not only has Mike Krzyzewski been at the helm for over 30 years, he has a team of his assistants who are very familiar with him and the university as they are all former players.
However, as those assistants have grown and gained experience under Coach K, they are now beginning to step out and take opportunities to become head coaches of their own programs. Johnny Dawkins left Duke in 2008 after spending 10 years as an assistant to become the head coach at Stanford. And Chris Collins recently left the Blue Devils after spending 13 years as an assistant to take over the Northwestern program.
But similar to recruiting new players, Coach K has the ability to simply reload when openings on his staff become available.
With Collins now gone, that provided Jon Scheyer the opportunity to return to Duke as a member of the coaching staff. He won’t necessarily be on the bench with the team during games, but he will certainly have a very important role serving as a special assistant for the staff.
Despite this being his first experience in a coaching capacity, Scheyer will provide a unique perspective for Mike Krzyzewski’s staff. Perhaps more than any of the other coaches on the staff (Mike Krzyzewski, Jeff Capel, and Steve Wojciechowski), Scheyer can relate to players based on his own playing career.
In my opinion, Jon Scheyer is one of the most underrated players in the history of Duke basketball. His 2009-10 senior season was one of the best any Duke player has ever had and it ended with him leading the Blue Devils to the national championship. He was also an All-ACC and All-American performer that year.
Even more impressively, he did it all while being asked to take over a new position. Because of a lack of depth at the point guard position, Scheyer stepped into the role as a senior and quickly established himself as one of the best point guards in the country.
Whatever Duke needed from Jon Scheyer during his career at Duke, he did it. Even when it wasn’t something you’d expect from him, he did it.
Scheyer can now draw on those experiences as he creates relationships with players he’ll be coaching.
If a player on the team finds himself in a situation where he has to take on a different role and succeed in an area he isn’t familiar with, Scheyer is the perfect coach to talk to him about how to adapt and succeed.
If anyone begins to struggle with how to handle fatigue and the grueling nature of a college basketball season, Scheyer set the ACC record for most minutes played in a season. He knows what it takes to push through being tired.
And if Duke is fortunate enough to make it back to a final four, Mike Krzyzewski now has someone on his staff who has experienced what it’s like to play on that stage and come away with a championship. Scheyer stepped up when it mattered most, scoring five of Duke’s final 10 points in the national championship game against Butler.
In Jon Scheyer, Mike Krzyzewski is getting an individual who proved he could do it all during his playing career. Now, he gets a chance to help others succeed the same way he did when he wore the Duke jersey.