Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Former Duke Star Jon Scheyer Looks To Once Again Defy the Odds

Posted by CoHoops Tyler Lambert

The heart and soul of Duke's 2010 National Championship team was none other than Jon Scheyer, a four-year player under Coach Mike Krzyzewski and one of the best players and leaders to ever wear a Blue Devil jersey.

Whether it was a last-minute shot or a couple of clutch free throws to seal a win, Scheyer did it all for Duke last season as a senior, averaging a career-best 18.2 points and five assists a game while, leading the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (3:1).

Despite leading the Blue Devils in scoring during his final year in Durham, his career was a roller coaster ride to say the least.

Not to say that he was an inconsistent player, because he is just one of nine Duke players to average double figures all four years he was a Blue Devil, but he was used in a number of different roles throughout his career.

A highly-touted recruit from Illinois, Scheyer committed to the Blue Devils in the Class of 2006, one that also featured talented players such as Gerald Henderson, Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas.

Although many believed that Henderson possessed the necessary skills to start as a freshman, it was the sharp-shooting Scheyer who took the role head on and ended up averaging 12 points in his first year.

Heading into his second season, many thought Scheyer would take his game to the next level and begin to knock down three-pointers at will, like former Duke great J.J. Redick, a player Scheyer was compared to early on in the recruiting process, once did.

However, Coach K had another plan in store.

Instead of starting Scheyer at shooting guard as he did the year before, Coach K inserted Henderson into the starting lineup in favor of a more athletic starting five. He would later ask Scheyer to come off the bench.

Instead of complaining about not being named a starter, Scheyer understood that the move would only make the team better and he took his role as a bench player seriously.

That's how most Duke fans will remember Scheyer: a player that was willing to put the team's needs and goals ahead of earning individual success while in college. He finished his sophomore campaign as one of the top-scoring bench players in the country.

As a junior, Scheyer once again started for Coach K and the Blue Devils. He would continue to score the ball as effectively as he did his first two years, but by the end of the season he was asked to do something that most players in the country couldn't even imagine doing.

In the middle of February, Coach K asked Scheyer to move out his comfort zone, the shooting guard position, to point guard, a role that involved being a vocal leader on the court and running the offense efficiently.

Instead of complaining about the move or questioning tactics, Scheyer once again stepped up to the plate and performed well as the floor general for Duke in the last few weeks of his junior season.

Scheyer would play point guard for the remainder of his career as a Blue Devil, and I guess you could say that the rest is history.

Although Scheyer graduated as one of the top players in the country this spring, he was not taken in the 2010 NBA Draft, and thus had to earn his spot on an NBA roster by playing in the Summer League.

He signed a contract with the Miami Heat to play for their summer team right before July started, and he began his pre-NBA career well, hitting a game-winning three-pointer in his NBA Summer League debut.

In the second game the Heat played in Las Vegas on July 14, however, Scheyer's luck seemed to have run out when he was poked in the eye by one of the opposing team's players and had to sit out the rest of the tournament.

The injury, at the time, was at first though to be minor. Further tests would indicate that this was certainly not the case.

Recently, Scheyer was interviewed about the accident and he said that he suffered an injury to the optic nerve along with a tear in the retina of his right eye.

It is unsure how long it will take for the injury to heal, but most speculate it will be between three to six months.

Once a great player at Duke, Scheyer is now unsure about his future in the NBA. He is optimistic about his chances of playing again and that the injury will heal soon, but it's really too early to tell.

Amidst all of the uncertainty, one thing is clear: If his playing days as a Blue Devil are of any indication of what kind of person Scheyer is, he will fight to earn his place on an NBA roster and make no excuses.

He will accept whatever role he is offered, fulfill it to the best of his ability, and like his days in Durham, will defy the odds.

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