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5 things to know about Jon Scheyer, the former Duke basketball star who will succeed Mike Krzyzewski

There are tough acts to follow — and then there’s replacing college basketball’s all-time leader in coaching victories. In your first head-coaching job at any level. Before turning 35.

But Northbrook native Jon Scheyer — who was announced Wednesday as Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s successor after Coach K is set to retire following the 2021-22 season — is no stranger to the spotlight. A basketball prodigy who received a scholarship offer in eighth grade from Marquette coach Tom Crean, Scheyer won a state championship at Glenbrook North, a national title at Duke and has been on Krzyzewski’s bench since 2013.

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Here are five things to know about Scheyer, whom Krzyzewski called “a rising star in our profession.”

1. He beat out Derrick Rose, among others, to be Mr. Basketball of Illinois in 2006.

Scheyer finished his career at Glenbrook North as the No. 4 scorer in state history, and he led the Spartans to berths downstate in three of four seasons, including the Class AA state title as a junior in 2005.

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As a senior, the 6-foot-5 shooting guard scored an incredible 21 points in 75 seconds while trying to lead the Spartans back in a loss to Proviso West in the Proviso West Holiday Tournament. He finished with 52 in that game, averaged 32 as a senior and took Glenbrook North back downstate.

In the Class AA quarterfinals, the defending champion Spartans lost to eventual state champ Simeon, led by junior point guard Derrick Rose. But when it came time for voting on the state’s Mr. Basketball award, it was Scheyer in a landslide. He received 217 first-place votes — 200 more than the next-closest player.

Simeon's Derrick Rose, left, and Glenbrook North's Jon Scheyer during an IHSA Class AA quarterfinal March 17, 2006, in Peoria.
Simeon's Derrick Rose, left, and Glenbrook North's Jon Scheyer during an IHSA Class AA quarterfinal March 17, 2006, in Peoria. (Abel Uribe / Chicago Tribune)

2. He won a national championship in his final college game.

Scheyer chose Duke over finalists Illinois, Wisconsin and Arizona, and he played in 144 games over four seasons for the Blue Devils, including 108 starts.

He averaged double-digit scoring all four years, topped by an 18.2-point average as a senior in 2009-10, when he was a first-team All-ACC and second-team All-America selection and the Blue Devils reached their first Final Four in six years.

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Scheyer scored a team-high 23 points in Duke’s semifinal win over West Virginia, setting the stage for the national championship game against Butler.

In a memorable final that came down to a half-court heave by Butler’s Gordon Hayward that rimmed out, the Blue Devils prevailed 61-59 with Scheyer scoring five of their last 10 points and finishing with 15.

Jon Scheyer celebrates Duke's NCAA championship victory against Butler on April 5, 2010, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Jon Scheyer celebrates Duke's NCAA championship victory against Butler on April 5, 2010, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

3. An eye poke during an NBA Summer League game left him legally blind in his right eye.

After going undrafted, Scheyer was playing for the Miami Heat Summer League team in Las Vegas when the Golden State Warriors’ Joe Ingles accidentally poked him in the eye.

According to a Sporting News story, Scheyer suffered optic nerve damage, a slightly torn retina and a scratched cornea.

“I think my whole body went into shock,” Scheyer told Sporting News. “Some of the sight returned within hours, but not all of it.”

The injury wasn’t career-ending, though. Scheyer returned to play in the NBA D-League and overseas in Israel and Spain.

4. He replaced fellow Glenbrook North alumnus Chris Collins on the Duke coaching staff.

Collins, also Mr. Basketball of Illinois (1992) at Glenbrook North, was instrumental as a Duke assistant coach in recruiting Scheyer to Durham.

After Northwestern hired Collins in March 2013 to be its head coach, Krzyzewski brought Scheyer back to Durham in a special assistant role. Scheyer became a full-time assistant coach a year later when Steve Wojciechowski took the head coaching job at Marquette, and he was promoted to associate head coach after the 2017-18 season.

Collins, Wojciechowski and Jeff Capel were all seen as possible heirs apparent to Coach K at one time or another, but it’s the younger Scheyer who wound up getting the call.

“He is clearly ready for this opportunity and has shown it repeatedly throughout his playing career and as a coach on our staff the past eight seasons,” Krzyzewski said in a statement Wednesday.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, center, speaks with assistants Steve Wojciechowski, left, and Chris Collins on Dec. 31, 2008, at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, center, speaks with assistants Steve Wojciechowski, left, and Chris Collins on Dec. 31, 2008, at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. (Chuck Liddy, McClatchy-Tribune)

5. He was honored twice by the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Scheyer’s father, Jim, is Jewish, and Scheyer was raised in the faith. The 2005 Glenbrook North team that won state featured an all-Jewish starting lineup.

Scheyer won the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame’s Jules D. Mazor Award in 2006 as the Jewish high school athlete of the year, then received the Marty Glickman Award four years later as the Jewish college athlete of the year. He was the first male athlete to receive both honors, according to Alan Freedman, the Hall of Fame’s former director.

When he played professionally for Maccabi Tel-Aviv in Israel, Scheyer’s faith allowed him to become an Israeli citizen so he wouldn’t count against the team’s maximum of four foreign players.

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