Jon Scheyer would do well to sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk with Shaun Livingston about living up to unreal expectations.
For the most part, Scheyer cruised through this season with the same ease with which he solves a full-court press, unencumbered by the pressure that dogged Livingston's every crossover dribble.
After all, Scheyer was only a sophomore and the lone returning starter from Glenbrook North's 24-9 team that had finished third in the state.
Livingston, a senior, had led Peoria Central to the Class AA title and was rated by some recruiting services as the No. 1 player in the country.
Signing with Duke in November only added to the hype, which reached its peak in late January once NBA personnel people began projecting the smooth and unselfish 6-foot-7-inch point guard as a lottery pick in the June draft.
"With all the expectations, you would think I'm the almighty Livingston who's 9 feet tall and 300 pounds," he said.
This could be the fate awaiting Scheyer, who joins Livingston to headline the 2003-04 Tribune All-State Basketball Team.
With the three other first-team All-Staters--Ollie Bailey of Farragut, Calvin Brock of Simeon and Shaun Pruitt of West Aurora--all joining Livingston as June graduates, Scheyer could begin next season as the No. 1 player in Illinois.
Even now, talent scouts are forecasting a breakout off-season for the 6-6 guard, with his national ranking soaring near the top of his class.
All of that can wait for Scheyer, who is spending his spring break this week in sunny Palm Springs, Calif., enjoying life as a teenager.
"Making All-State as a sophomore is one of the most unbelievable accomplishments I could have in my career," Scheyer said. "I can't believe I got it. Look at how many great players there are in Illinois. It's the greatest honor."
It was also richly deserved. Scheyer led the inexperienced Spartans to a 25-4 season that ended with a loss to Schaumburg in the Class AA sectionals. He averaged 25.5 points, six rebounds and six assists while running the offense and defending against the opponent's top scorer.
While the legend of Livingston began in the 5th grade, Scheyer had just graduated from 8th grade when Marquette coach Tom Crean paired him up in a two-on-two game with Golden Eagle Dwyane Wade, now an impact rookie with the Miami Heat.
Even though the kid was schooled by Wade, Crean was impressed enough to tell him a scholarship would be his when he was ready.
What the Marquette coach observed throughout Scheyer's stay at his summer camp was his relentless work ethic and remarkable court vision. The following summer found Scheyer shooting 500 shots a day, some with one hand and others off one leg.
"I improved my shooting range to beyond the three-point line, and that opened up my driving as players came out to guard me," Scheyer said. "I had a different role my freshman year, playing with four seniors. This year, I could show everything in my game.
"Next year, with most of the guys coming back, my role could change again. I can see my scoring coming down but my assists going up."
Livingston, Bailey, Brock and Pruitt all were in Peoria last weekend, competing in the state tournament, and Pruitt helped West Aurora finish third.
"All these guys are winners," said Livingston, a co-most valuable player in Wednesday's EA Sports Roundball Classic, in which he collected 12 points and seven rebounds. "They are all the leaders of their teams, and you can see they have a lot in common. Each one had a lot of pressure on him, and you can see how each responded."
The 6-8 Bailey and 6-9 Pruitt were the best post players in the state. Bailey averaged 21.5 points and 11 rebounds while Pruitt scored nearly 17 points per game and averaged eight rebounds and four blocked shots despite facing double- and triple-team defenses.
"I have to thank my coach [William Nelson] for helping me make a big improvement after my junior year," said Bailey, who signed with Rutgers. "He was in the gym with me all the time working on my shooting, conditioning and jumping."
Pruitt was glad to stay healthy for the first time since freshman year. As a sophomore, the Illinois signee missed half the season with a broken bone in his right foot. Last year, he played only seven games after breaking a bone in his right ankle.
"It felt like a relief to play in all 34 games," Pruitt said. "I know a lot of people had questions about me, and I answered a lot of those questions. Even though I was injured, Illinois continued to recruit me. They must have seen what I can do during the summer season."
Pruitt could be joined in Champaign by the 6-6 Brock, the Public League's most complete player since Los Angeles Clippers star Quentin Richardson was leading Young to the state title in 1998. Brock has offers from the Illini and DePaul but is also being recruited by Oklahoma, Toledo and Ball State.
"I don't have a favorite school yet," he said. "I will probably make my decision on signing day [April 7]."
And the first-team All-State recognition?
"It's a great honor," Brock said. "When I first found out about it, I was overwhelmed."
So were the players who had to go up against him this season: Brock averaged 22 points, 10 rebounds, five steals, four assists and four blocks.
FIRST TEAMOllie Bailey, Farragut
6-8 senior forward/center
Rates with West Aurora's Shaun Pruitt as the top post players in the state. The Rutgers signee averaged 21.5 points and 11 rebounds for the Class AA quarterfinalist and couldn't be stopped by state champion Peoria Central. One of Farragut's top student-athletes.
Calvin Brock, Simeon
6-6 senior forward
Averaged 22 points, 10 rebounds, 5 steals, 4 assists and 4 blocks as the Public League's best all-around player since Quentin Richardson. Has scholarship offers from Illinois and DePaul; also being recruited by Oklahoma, Toledo and Ball State. Rarely took a bad shot and hardly ever came off the floor for Class AA quarterfinalist.
Shaun Pruitt, West Aurora
6-9 senior center
After being sidelined with injuries as a sophomore and junior, the Illinois recruit with the soft shooting touch played every game in leading the 32-2 Blackhawks to third place in the state tournament. Facing constant double- and triple-team defenses, Pruitt averaged nearly 17 points with 8 rebounds and 4 blocked shots.
Shaun Livingston, Peoria Central
6-7 senior guard
Two-time All-Stater and consensus all-American led the Lions to their second straight Class AA title with 27 points and 9 rebounds in a 53-47 victory over Homewood-Flossmoor. The Duke signee, projected as a possible NBA draft lottery pick, averaged 18.5 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists and is rated by many the No. 2 player in the country.
Jon Scheyer, Glenbrook North
6-6 sophomore guard
One of the nation's top sophomores, he averaged 25.5 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists in leading the Spartans to a 25-4 record. A deadly outside shot enabled him to have stretches where he was hitting five or six three-pointers in a row. Already attracting big-time college interest, Scheyer received a scholarship offer from Marquette after graduating from 8th grade.
SECOND TEAMJustin Dentmon, Carbondale
6-1 senior guard
Illinois State got an absolute steal in this explosive performer, who averaged 26 points a game in last weekend's Class AA state tournament. Led Terriers to 28-7 record and fourth place.
DeAaron Williams, Bartonville Limestone
6-5 senior guard
Wisconsin-bound athlete averaged 19 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists and won the state's slam-dunk contest last weekend in Peoria. School's all-time leading scorer finished with 1,868 points.
Jamarcus Ellis, Westinghouse
6-5 senior forward
Dominated games at both ends of the floor, averaging 18 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks. Oklahoma, Nevada-Las Vegas and Iowa State are his top college choices.
Julian Wright, Homewood-Flossmoor
6-8 junior forward
Demonstrated why he is rated among the nation's top 10 juniors with a spectacular showing last weekend in leading the Vikings to second place in Class AA. Being recruited by many of the country's top college programs.
Nate Minnoy, Hales Franciscan
6-4 junior forward/center
An intimidating presence inside, Minnoy was the top post player in Class A, averaging 19 points and 12 rebounds. Helped lead the Spartans to the Class A championship as a sophomore.
Jonathan Austin, Bloom, sr.
Justin Cerasoli, West Aurora, sr.
Brandon Childs, Cairo, sr.
Jeremy Crouch, Pekin, sr.
Brandon Dagans, Thornton, jr.
Jordan Delp, Mt. Carroll, sr.
Brandon Ewing, Julian, jr.
Jeremy Fears, Joliet, sr.
Bobby Frasor, Brother Rice, jr.
Tony Freeman, St. Joseph, jr.
Stefhon Hannah, Hyde Park, sr.
Excell Hardy, H-Flossmoor, sr.
Mike Kolze, Lake Zurich, jr.
Brandon Lee, Peoria Central, sr.
Kevin Lisch, Belleville Althoff, jr.
Jerel McNeal, Hillcrest, jr.
Trent Meacham, Champaign Centennial, sr.
Bryan Mullins, Downers South, jr.
Ray Nelson, Ullin Century, jr.
Zach Pancratz, Schaumburg, sr.
Xavier Price, Belleville West, sr.
Jonny Reibel, Hoffman Estates, sr.
Chris Singletary, Farragut, soph.
Jamar Smith, Peoria Richwoods, jr.
Jimmy Williams, N. Lawndale, sr.
Sterling Williams, Young, sr.
Mario Brandon, Curie, sr.
Frank Clair, Leo, sr.
Demetrius Evans, Von Steuben, sr.
Tommie Liddell, East St. Louis, sr.
Anthony Newell, Simeon, sr.
Lukas Slater, McHenry, sr.
Eric Vierneisel, Jacobs, sr.
Gordon Watt, Evanston, sr.
Brandon Alexander, Simeon, sr.
Joevan Catron, Thornton, soph.
Christian Cornelius, Oak Park, sr.
Matt Shaw, Centralia, sr.
Cyrus Tate, H-Flossmoor, sr.
DeAndre Thomas, Westinghouse, jr.