‘He has just always loved a challenge.’ How Jon Scheyer ready his complete life for the stress — and privilege — of succeeding Coach Okay at Duke.


That crash was represented within the first picture Jon despatched, the one capturing him in a heap on the sideline on the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas a second after Golden State Warriors wing Joe Ingles poked his proper eye with such pressure and at such an ill-fated angle that Scheyer’s eyelid was lower, his retina torn and his optic nerve considerably broken.

In that second, as an undrafted rookie enjoying for the Miami Heat within the NBA Summer League, Scheyer couldn’t comprehend the profession detour he had simply encountered. He started that day as a lately topped nationwide champion at Duke and a assured capturing guard decided to win a roster spot alongside LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

“I was going to stick,” Scheyer says. “I promise you. I was going to make that team.”

Before he knew it, Scheyer was as a substitute in a trauma hospital in Nevada along with his proper eye swollen, filled with blood and blinded and his NBA aspirations suspended. To at the present time, that summer season league snapshot elicits a sure degree of grief for the entire household.

But in that very same put up this summer season, Scheyer additionally supplied an uplifting image, a grinning selfie from his fifth-floor workplace contained in the Schwartz-Butters Athletic Center at Duke. Twelve years to the day after struggling that grotesque eye damage, Scheyer reminded his household that the whole lot, as traditional, had turned out OK.

His smile was now that of a proud and decided 34-year-old attacking one other day as the brand new king on the Duke basketball throne, the successor to the legendary Mike Krzyzewski because the Blue Devils head coach.

Here Scheyer was now along with his limitless vitality, a transparent imaginative and prescient for the long run and a possibility nobody within the household might have dreamed of.

Call it destiny or future if you happen to’d like. More precisely, this was merely the newest grand payoff for Scheyer’s immeasurable audacity.

“When you set big goals, you have to go for it,” he says. “I just don’t know any happy medium. You have to go for it. Like this opportunity now? I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Are you kidding me?”

To many inside the school basketball world, what Scheyer is trying in changing Coach Okay and pushing to uphold the status of Duke basketball is the equal of making an attempt to cross the Grand Canyon on a chunk of tight dental floss.

He is following a sports activities icon, the proprietor of a Division I males’s document 1,202 victories plus 13 Final Four appearances and 5 nationwide championships. And he’s doing so with a program that’s directly one of many nation’s most admired and revered but additionally one of the crucial despised and scrutinized. The outdoors stress already has constructed.

“I get it,” Scheyer says. “You’re never supposed to be the guy who replaces the guy.”

Krzyzewski, although, sees this case in another way, sure Scheyer has each qualification wanted to expertise a future of success. Everything in Scheyer’s playing and coaching background factors in that path.

“This,” Krzyzewski says, “is what he’s purported to do. That’s the very very first thing.

“When I recruited Jon, you saw it immediately: He was a natural. The game came so easy to him. There wasn’t really one thing that he did great. He just was great. And you saw that from the beginning.”

Five nationwide championship banners dangle from the rafters at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Two, Krzyzewski factors out, have Scheyer’s fingerprints — from 2010 as a participant and 2015 as an assistant coach.

Scheyer is aware of his climb — from the youth ranks in Chicago’s northern suburbs to the professionals to the teaching world — has given him invaluable perception into the secrets and techniques of crew constructing and the best strategies for pursuing success. He additionally by no means has felt extra assured in his capacity to excel, reassured by the preparation he put in over the previous decade to set himself up for teaching success.

“That doesn’t mean I’m not nervous,” Scheyer says. “It doesn’t mean I’m not afraid of certain things. Of course I am. But I have always been wired to take the most challenging route. And this, obviously, is going to be a challenging route.”

On Tuesday, after early season dwelling victories over Jacksonville and South Carolina Upstate, Scheyer will carry his seventh-ranked Blue Devils to Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis to face No. 5 Kansas within the State Farm Champions Classic. This would be the first big-stage, bright-lights sport of Scheyer’s head teaching tenure.

More importantly for an unproven coach main a younger Blue Devils crew with grand aspirations for this season, that is one other development alternative, a second to be attacked with enthusiasm and ambition.

That’s the one method Scheyer is aware of and the angle he plans to take into daily as Duke’s coach.

“Jon is just fearless,” his mother, Laury, says. “He is. I don’t know any other way to explain it. He has just always loved a challenge.”

At a naked minimal, Scheyer’s household is aware of Jon is strolling onto the large stage the best way he at all times has, with eagerness and constructive vitality. He is absolutely conscious of the extreme stress however actually enjoys the stakes, appreciates the grind and is worked up to chase his subsequent large basketball conquest.

“I want high-level pressure,” Scheyer says. “I love that. Because usually that means you have an amazing opportunity.”

II: Side by facet

Perhaps Laury Scheyer ought to have seen this coming when the youngest of her three kids was 8 years previous. As an aggressive however scrawny child enjoying in a Small Fry league in Highwood, Jon wound up on the ground ceaselessly, collision after collision, spill after spill.

In these earliest days, he tended to remain down some time, writhing and bellowing and worrying his mom nearly each time.

“There’d be these falls where you’d get that big reaction,” Laury says. “The big ‘Oooooh!’ Then Jon would stay down.”

One day, Laury determined she’d had sufficient of these mini nervousness assaults, the hands-over-the-mouth, “Please be OK!” episodes within the bleachers. So she issued a warning.

Next time that occurs, I’m working onto the courtroom to be sure you’re OK.

Jon by no means actually stayed down once more.

“That was my moment,” he says. “From then on, I would just jump right back up.”

As it seems, that grew to become a life ability, a personality power Scheyer used regularly to show he’s manufactured from rubber, bouncing increased from each disappointment, each fall, each failure.

Thus, when Scheyer thinks concerning the challenges he’s dealing with as Duke’s new coach and the inevitable setbacks, he exudes an infectious aura of self-belief, understanding the origins of that confidence.

“Look,” he says. “I know my history.”

As a freshman at Glenbrook North High School in 2003, for instance, Scheyer and the Spartans took an exhilarating joyride downstate, reaching the IHSA Class AA state semifinals. That was farther than any crew in class historical past had gone.

But Glenbrook North’s season ended with a gut-wrenching, one-point loss to Thornwood. The Spartans squandered a six-point lead within the last 90 seconds, and Thornwood guard Eric Gray drained a deep game-winning 3-pointer with 9 seconds remaining — over Scheyer.

The subsequent morning, Scheyer lower his image from the newspaper, a black-and-white picture that captured him face down and in tears on the Carver Arena ground in entrance of a Thornwood celebration mob.

He taped that picture to his bed room wall and pledged to depart it there till he had an image of the Spartans profitable a state championship. His mother and father requested a number of instances within the ensuing months and years if he was prepared to drag that picture down. They have been emphatically rejected.

Two seasons later, Scheyer and Glenbrook North gained all of it, seizing the Class AA state championship trophy with a 63-51 defeat of Carbondale.

“True to his word,” Laury says.

Adds his father, Jim: “He just wills certain things to happen.”

Naturally, after that triumph, Scheyer grabbed a brand new picture of him and his Spartans teammates celebrating on the last buzzer. He collected that image to not substitute the 2003 picture of despair however to pair with it. Side by facet.

For Scheyer, these two moments have been unquestionably linked.

Scheyer additionally has photographic proof of his early struggles at Duke, most notably a snapshot from the Blue Devils’ 79-77 first-round NCAA Tournament loss to Virginia Commonwealth in his first season. That image exhibits Scheyer as a drained, battered freshman, once more close to tears and with a gash beneath his left eye that left blood streaming down his face.

That may as nicely have been the duvet picture of Duke’s 2006-07 season, an 11-loss uppercut that shook this system and reminded Scheyer of how a lot work and wrestle accompany the pursuit of excellence.

That crew skilled a four-game dropping streak in early February, a jarring skid that knocked Duke out of the AP Top 25 for the primary time in additional than a decade. An avalanche of out of doors criticism ensued.

At that point, each participant since 1983 who had spent 4 years within the Duke program with Krzyzewski had gone to a Final Four. Imagine the weight for a freshman enduring a midseason slide.

Compounding the heaviness, Duke misplaced its last 4 video games in March as nicely, together with a double-digit loss to rival North Carolina, a first-day exit from the ACC Tournament and that crushing defeat to VCU, with Rams guard Eric Maynor hitting the game-winning jumper with 1.8 seconds remaining — over Scheyer.

Duke assistant coach Chris Collins, a fellow Glenbrook North alumnus and trusted large brother to Scheyer, printed the picture of the bloody Blue Devils freshman from that night time in Buffalo, N.Y., and directed him to maintain it. Don’t overlook this, Collins informed Scheyer.

“Jon probably weighed a buck-75 at that point. He looked like he hadn’t had a meal in a month,” Collins says. “He had been elbowed in the face. He’s bleeding. He looked gaunt. And the pain on his face and the dejection was obvious.”

Collins knew that second might change into an immediate gasoline supply, pushing Scheyer to proceed busting his intestine to change into a unifying chief for this system, energizing him within the chase of his final purpose.

“Fast forward now three years later,” Collins says. “The picture became Jon with his hands in the air. On the cover of Sports Illustrated. After winning the national championship.”

Once once more, Scheyer had a two-photo union that stated the whole lot.

III: Going all in

Nineteen years and one million achievements faraway from his fourth-grade basketball season, Scheyer nonetheless remembers in vivid element the AAU Nationals in Orlando, Fla., the place his North Shore Express crew performed up a grade degree and, uh, actually struggled.

“We got our asses kicked if you want to know the truth,” Scheyer says.

Did that sting? Hell, sure. But these sorts of moments have at all times invigorated Scheyer. And that journey to Florida may need supplied one of many first indicators of his intrepid wiring.

“You go down there and you quickly realize it’s a big world,” Jim Scheyer says.

For Jon, it was an immediate energizer. His eyes lit up. There have been zero indicators of intimidation.

Says Jim: “It was like, ‘OK. I know what’s out there now. I know what to shoot for and aspire to.’”

Scheyer realized early the right way to assume large and swing larger, at all times searching for a excessive diploma of problem. As he approached highschool and lots of across the group inspired his mother and father to maneuver from Northbrook, to discover a extra elite program than Glenbrook North to maximise his potential, Jon scoffed.

“Why though?” Scheyer says now. “To me there was something to be said for trying to win a championship in my hometown. That to me was a moment in my life where you believe in yourself and you go for it.”

Sean Wallis lately dug up the letter Scheyer gave him earlier than Glenbrook North started the 2005 IHSA state match. In 279 phrases — with classic Scheyer wit and thrice as a lot function — Wallis acquired marching orders from his shut pal and fellow Spartans captain.

Time to show the whole lot up a notch, Scheyer emphasised. No second is to be taken as a right. State championship or bust.

“We have played together all our lives,” Scheyer wrote, “and I know for damn sure that I would never be right if you and I didn’t end it together on top. I know that you feel the same.”

Scheyer exhorted Wallis to assist elevate the urgency of each apply.

“Guys need to be talking and working hard every minute,” he wrote. “I think guys will follow your lead if you kick up the intensity another couple of gears. We have to get the guys realizing how quickly it could end.”

One by one, Scheyer went via your entire Glenbrook North roster, typing each teammate a customized letter, reminding every what he might carry to the mission and urging all of them to know the importance of their alternative.

“This is a 17-year-old writing letters upon letters upon letters,” Wallis says. “And not just to the starting five but to every kid on the team. Jon had a touch to that.”

Wallis appreciated the earnestness in Scheyer’s writing as a result of he had witnessed his buddy’s funding. Wallis had been within the automobile on the best way to center faculty journey video games as Scheyer studied their earlier sport on the credit-card-sized display screen of a camcorder.

He had watched the limitless hours Scheyer spent within the gymnasium, dribbling, capturing, sweating to squeeze essentially the most out of himself and people round him.

He acknowledged the grand imaginative and prescient Scheyer had. Most importantly, Wallis believed in all of it.

“With Jon, it was always just like, ‘This is how it’s going to go,’” Wallis says.

And normally that’s the way it went.

In his letter to Wallis, earlier than specifying Glenbrook North’s first postseason goal — to “take care of business and kill Prospect” within the regional opener — Scheyer hammered the Caps Lock key.


“And here we are,” Wallis says now, “still talking about it.”

Scheyer knew that over a three-week stretch, with correct focus and crew unity, he might chase down one among his greatest boyhood objectives. Best of all, he might do it as a part of a bunch that meant a lot to him.

“Those were my boys,” Scheyer says. “Growing up since we were 5 and 6 years old. It was just like, ‘Here we are.’”

Here they have been.

On March 11, 2005, the Spartans discovered themselves in a palm-sweating sectional championship sport versus Conant, up one level within the fourth quarter however in a protracted state of hysteria as their opponent stalled for the ultimate four-plus minutes to play for a last shot.

On the day Glenbrook North coach Dave Weber’s mother died, Scheyer and the Spartans discovered a option to make one last cease in a 37-36 victory.

Four nights later, a brand new problem offered itself within the Loyola University Supersectional in opposition to Waukegan. During the pregame captains assembly, the Bulldogs leaders made a calculated resolution to disregard Scheyer at midcourt.

“They didn’t shake our hands and wouldn’t look at us,” Scheyer says. “(They were) looking off in the opposite direction.”

As if proper again in that second, Scheyer begins to develop agitated.

“That’s fine,” he says. “That’s fine.”

Says his dad: “Jon doesn’t need much.”

Scheyer pulled his hand again. And when that assembly with the officers ended, he gathered his teammates and went off.

“Started swearing a lot,” he says, “I just said: ‘It’s on. Here’s what we’re about to do.’ ”

In a 70-58 victory, Scheyer exploded for 48 factors to punch the Spartans’ ticket again downstate.

“Should have been 50,” he says. “I missed a dunk.”

Once downstate, the Spartans rolled previous Brother Rice within the quarterfinals and blew out Rockford Jefferson the subsequent day. Now right here they have been, on the finish of Scheyer’s envisioned postseason blitz, toppling Carbondale and hoisting the state championship trophy.

Even then, as a precocious teenager, Scheyer realized the pursuit of grand objectives required a willingness to go all in. With the whole lot. Effort. Concentration. Emotions.

“I felt like my voice and the impact that could have on our team was as great as anything else,” he says.

As one of the crucial well-rounded highschool basketball gamers in Illinois historical past and with an elite really feel for the sport, Scheyer added one thing else to the championship fuel tank, filling it with perception — in his personal talents and preparation but additionally within the connection of his crew.

More than 17 years later, Scheyer is aware of why he took all that point to deal with every Spartans participant in writing, why he directed his vitality in that method.

“Nothing,” he says instantly, “was more important to me.”

IV: On a mission

Without diving deep into the main points, Scheyer’s continuous pursuit of success will be summed up as a two-step course of: Envision it. Make it occur.

That’s what has propelled Scheyer this far, and it’s the method he’ll use as Duke’s coach to proceed a championship legacy.

“You have to believe something before you achieve it,” he says. “And I’ve never struggled with that belief part.”

In an immediate, he rewinds to the house stretch of his four-year Duke profession and particularly to March 3, 2010, contained in the visiting locker room at Maryland. With an opportunity to clinch the ACC regular-season title that night time, the Blue Devils had performed arduous, stayed collectively and placed on one among their higher performances of the season — and nonetheless misplaced by seven.

In the ultimate week of the common season, Scheyer discovered himself head to head with one among life’s harshest realities: Even limitless dedication and laser focus assure nothing.

The ticking clock of his school profession seemed like a jackhammer. He sat in opposition to a brick wall within the Comcast Center locker room with tears leaking from his eyes.

“I remember it like it was yesterday,” he says. “Vividly.”

At that time, Scheyer’s last season as a Blue Devil had solely three assured video games remaining. One last sport at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C., after which school basketball’s large dance.

Yes, Scheyer was closing in on 2,000 factors, ending his profession ninth on Duke’s all-time record. Sure, he was the 2009 ACC Tournament MVP after main the Blue Devils to that championship a 12 months earlier. As a senior captain, he had change into a shoo-in for first-team all-conference honors.

But he had but to win an ACC regular-season title. He had but to steer Duke previous the Sweet 16 within the NCAA Tournament. He hadn’t come near reaching his true vacation spot — profitable all of it.

Scheyer abruptly felt shaken by the fact that he had reached his last month as a Duke participant and his legacy was incomplete.

Perhaps that defeat in College Park, Md., was completely timed, triggering Scheyer’s willpower and offering one final burst of oxygen to his aggressive hearth.

It had been 32 days since Duke’s earlier loss, an 89-77 beatdown by No. 7 Georgetown in Washington with President Barack Obama sitting courtside. That loss caught the eighth-ranked Blue Devils’ consideration, a galvanizing second that triggered lineup adjustments and a renewed sense of function, particularly for Duke’s 5 upperclassman starters.

The loss at Maryland, although, hit in another way.

“It was because we did everything,” Scheyer says. “We prepared, we played hard. We did absolutely everything except make a couple plays we should have made and could make, the kinds of things we were going to have to do to go on and win the whole thing.”

From the bus, Scheyer despatched his mother a textual content.

We should not dropping once more.

A couple of nights later, in the course of the Blue Devils senior dinner with Krzyzewski and his household on the University Club close to campus, Scheyer was requested to select essentially the most memorable second of his Duke profession. He responded rapidly.

Hasn’t occurred but.

“It was an honest answer. That’s it,” Scheyer says. “I truly believed that.”

Every morning and each night time, Scheyer fueled himself with the identical mantra: I got here right here to win a nationwide championship.

At that time, nobody was going to speak him into settling.

Envision it. Make it occur.

Bothered by the loss to the Terrapins, Scheyer and the Blue Devils tightened their bond.

“There is a toughness and a togetherness you can only develop through failure,” Scheyer says. “With that group, we had it.”

What adopted was one of the crucial exhilarating durations of Scheyer’s basketball life, a 31-day climb to varsity basketball’s mountaintop.

Duke hammered rival North Carolina by 32 factors on Scheyer’s senior night time.

The Blue Devils blitzed Virginia, Miami and Georgia Tech to win the ACC Tournament.

Then, with an intense microfocus on every step within the NCAA Tournament, the Blue Devils proceeded via the bracket. Round of 32. Sweet 16. A 78-71 survival in opposition to Baylor in an electrical Elite Eight showdown in Houston to achieve the Final Four.

On the season’s last night time, as the ultimate buzzer sounded on Scheyer’s school profession, the results of the nationwide championship sport was nonetheless in query. If solely outsiders realized what was using on the flight of that leather-based Wilson that Butler’s Gordon Hayward launched from simply past midcourt at Lucas Oil Stadium.

That was the ultimate second of Scheyer’s four-year Duke journey, the shot that may decide as soon as and for all if he might examine the field on the one school purpose that meant essentially the most to him.

Hayward’s half-courter regarded good on launch too.

Says Lance Thomas, a Blue Devils co-captain: “I truly believe this: The universe doesn’t make mistakes.”

Maybe, then, it was a puff of wind or a collective gasp from that facet of the stadium. But Hayward’s shot kissed the backboard, the rim and the cheek of future earlier than touchdown on the hardwood.

Duke survived 61-59. National champions.

“If that had gone in,” Scheyer says, “I would have been devastated. Devastated.”

Instead, he skilled a rush of elation like he by no means had felt.

“We were rewarded for the entirety of our four years that we put in,” Thomas says. “The time, the effort. The blood, sweat and tears. The long, hard practices. The challenging meetings, the extra film sessions, the extra preparation, all the different conversations that were had. The universe doesn’t make mistakes.”

In the top, just a little greater than a month after that jarring loss at Maryland, Scheyer and the Blue Devils had gained 4 championships: ACC common season, ACC Tournament, NCAA South Regional, NCAA title.

All these years later, Krzyzewski describes that crew, the journey of the beginning 5 and that championship run as “pure.” He remembers that group as “unflappable.” Never flashy. Rarely spectacular. But, of their legendary coach’s phrases, they turned themselves into “a very difficult team to beat.”

“That was one of the most together groups I’ve ever had,” Krzyzewski says. “Those guys liked each other. And they shared the whole lot. Although all of them have been actually good, not one among them stood out above the others. And they liked that.

“They were brothers. And they showed it.”

Thomas loves the best way that group responded to years of wrestle and grew from it.

“We got our noses rubbed in (crap),” he says. “We were broken early in our careers. But our spirit was never broken. And once we locked in, there was a bond of making sure we didn’t let each other down.”

Chris Collins, then a Duke assistant coach, nonetheless will get goosebumps occupied with that season and that run.

Collins was a youngster when his dad was teaching Michael Jordan with the Bulls. He was a McDonald’s All-American and Illinois’ Mr. Basketball in 1992 at Glenbrook North. He performed within the NCAA championship sport his freshman season at Duke and, as a Blue Devils assistant coach, went to a few extra Final Fours. In 2017, as Northwestern’s head coach, he introduced the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament for the primary time in program historical past and beat Vanderbilt within the first spherical.

Still, Collins says, nothing earlier than or since has in comparison with the frenzy of Duke’s 2010 run.

“As much fun as I’ve ever had,” Collins says. “That was just a team that was on a mission. And all they cared about was team success.”

Scheyer’s position in that was unmistakable.

“His leadership was real,” Collins says. “And everything with him was so genuine. As motivated as he always was, he never let emotion get the best of him. And that carried over to his teammates. That’s why he’ll be such a good coach.”

V: A fork within the highway

When Scheyer was in center faculty, he wrote down three large objectives for his basketball profession.

He needed to change into a McDonald’s All-American in highschool. Check. (Glenbrook North, 2006.)

He needed to win a nationwide championship in school. Check. (Duke, 2010.)

He needed greater than something in his life to play within the NBA.

Scheyer was sure he was on the doorstep of that last dream, able to press the doorbell with the Heat, when he took that shot to the attention throughout that night summer season league sport in July 2010 in Las Vegas.

The most grueling problem of his life started.

Doctors informed Scheyer that Joe Ingles’ finger not solely had penetrated his proper eye, but additionally had hooked inside and twisted it, inflicting an optic nerve avulsion and leaving him legally blind on that facet.

Within a few days, upon a go to to 2 eye specialists at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Scheyer heard a prognosis he had no intention of accepting.

It’s our perception you’ll by no means play basketball once more.

Says Laury: “The doctors told us you usually only see injuries like this when someone goes through the windshield during a car accident.”

Laury had barely gotten the automobile out of the car parking zone when Jon barked at her.

“I’m sorry,” he stated. “But no one is going to (bleeping) tell me when I’m going to stop playing.”

Once the automobile was within the storage again dwelling, Scheyer jumped out, tracked down a basketball and went on to the driveway.

Jim and Laury didn’t hassle saying something. With heavy hearts, they merely supplied house and watched at nightfall as their son, with glasses on and a thick patch over his proper eye, launched 25 3-pointers.

With each make, Scheyer backed up.

“It got to the point where I was off our driveway,” he says. “Shooting from the grass.”

Swish. Swish. Swish.

Twenty-three of these pictures went down.

“(Bleep) them!” Scheyer stated.

He slammed the ball down and walked inside.

While his summer season league tryout with the Heat ended abruptly, Scheyer had no intention of packing it in, even with a demanding restoration course of that required weeks of relaxation and inactivity.

Somewhat miraculously — and by his personal admission, fairly recklessly — Scheyer discovered himself in coaching camp with the Los Angeles Clippers barely two months after the damage occurred. With just one helpful eye however a surplus of will, Scheyer satisfied himself his grit would prevail.

“I went for it,” he says. “And I’m still proud of that.”

Sure, he realizes now, that was a long-shot comeback try. Physically he wasn’t anyplace close to able to resume enjoying. Even extra considerably, his mind hadn’t absolutely adjusted to or compensated for the attention injury. Scheyer was lower earlier than camp ended.

His temper throughout that interval was sullen as he coped along with his misplaced imaginative and prescient and looked for path in his basketball profession.

Says shut pal and highschool teammate Sean Wallis: “It’s super hard when something has been at the core of your identity for your whole life and then all of a sudden it’s taken away in a manner where it can no longer be the way it always was.”

Jim Scheyer says that in that stretch Jon appeared far quieter than traditional, “almost like he was in turmoil.”

Jon, although, describes it in another way.

“For me, it was more about pursuing this dream I had always had.”

In April of that 12 months, Scheyer was on prime of the world as a nationwide champion at Duke. In July, he was with the Heat and persevering with his climb to the NBA. Then abruptly he grew to become a perpetual affected person, out and in of docs places of work and hospitals, present process assessments, assembly specialists, searching for new remedies and pushing to speed up his restoration.

Scheyer acknowledges he was edgy.

“But I don’t know that it was about my eye as much as it was the reality that I had a dream I hadn’t accomplished yet,” he says. “When I’m not succeeding, I’m not fun to be around. I don’t hide the fact that I’m not OK with that.”

After Scheyer’s swing at making the Clippers didn’t join, he discovered different avenues he believed might circle him again to the NBA. Over the subsequent two-plus years, he performed for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers within the NBA D-League; for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel; for the Philadelphia 76ers’ 2012 summer season league squad; for Gran Canaria in Spain.

That, in itself, could also be as spectacular an achievement as something on Scheyer’s basketball resume.

“Think about that,” Collins says. “Think about trying to play a game that requires the ultimate in depth perception and peripheral vision and everything else and now trying to do that with one eye. Jon did that successfully. At a high level professionally. For two years.”

Adds Scheyer: “I am proud of the attempt and the courage that took.”

Eventually, at 25, it grew to become clear Scheyer’s enjoying days have been numbered. He had reached his fork within the highway. When Collins, who preceded Scheyer by 14 years at Glenbrook North and coached him for 4 seasons in school, left Duke to change into Northwestern’s coach in March 2013, he reached out about the potential for Scheyer becoming a member of him on the bench in Evanston.

“That got my wheels turning,” Scheyer says.

Collins’ transfer, nonetheless, additionally left an assistant teaching opening subsequent to Krzyzewski.

Coach Okay had made it clear to Scheyer he at all times would have a house at Duke. Now, as Scheyer regarded for the off ramp to his enjoying profession, Krzyzewski supplied the possibility to return to his alma mater.

“He called me an idiot actually,” Scheyer says now. “He told me I’d be an idiot to consider going anywhere other than Duke.”

Never one to argue, Scheyer returned to campus to start what grew to become a nine-season apprenticeship, learning the sport from a brand new vantage level however making use of the identical drive and keenness.

Scheyer at all times knew he needed to teach. He simply figured he would begin down that highway in his mid-30s, not at 25.

At no level did he assume his first head teaching job can be at Duke. As Coach Okay’s successor.

Once upon a time, Scheyer purchased into the concept the whole lot in life occurs for a cause and even satisfied himself of that for the primary 12 months or so after his eye damage. But he lengthy since has canceled that subscription.

“People say to me all the time it was my eye injury that led to me becoming the next head coach at Duke,” Scheyer says. “But it’s solely due to how I dealt with that adversity and the way a lot I poured into figuring issues out and making one of the best of my predicament.

“It’s not like that happened and now this was given to me. I don’t believe in that.”

Given an opportunity to pivot into teaching, Scheyer did so with function and keenness and stored his foot on the fuel.

VI: Driven to steer

Laury Scheyer intends this as a heartfelt praise of her son — principally.

“Jon can be exhausting,” she says.

That may sound like a harsh descriptor. But these closest to Scheyer acknowledge and admire his surplus of ardour, his indefatigable work ethic and his each day need to squeeze essentially the most out of himself. They additionally notice it may be arduous to maintain up.

Scheyer is self-aware sufficient to decipher the nuance in his mother’s description.

“I know I can be a lot sometimes,” he says with a nod. “But I believe it’s for good reason.”

That cause? Scheyer at all times has had grand objectives plus an inherent need to chase them as a part of a bunch. During a basketball odyssey of greater than 25 years, he has realized the true which means of dedication and has a standing request for almost everybody in his orbit: Strive with me.

“Go look at any truly great athlete or coach or someone in the business world who has accomplished something big-time or special,” Scheyer says. “I’d guess 99% of them can be described by folks round them as exhausting. You know?

“There’s a certain drive that is there and a certain drive that is needed.”

That ought to proceed to serve Scheyer nicely throughout this subsequent pressure-packed leg of his basketball journey. So, too, will his insatiable thirst to proceed evolving as a frontrunner. In late 2020, that led him to hunt the counsel of Cmdr. Mark McGinnis, a former Navy SEAL who has change into a famend management marketing consultant.

Long earlier than even the faintest chatter of Krzyzewski retiring at Duke, Scheyer started formulating a blueprint for changing into a profitable school head coach, a bounce he believed would happen at one other program. He needed to compile a customized playbook to take into job interviews, to have a complete description of the tradition he needed to construct plus a agency grasp on what precisely he was promoting.

As a part of that mission, he linked with McGinnis.

“I wanted to get an outside perspective and some fresh eyes on, ‘Hey, here’s who you are,’ ” Scheyer says. “I was trying to fully establish what I feel my strengths are. But we also worked together to identify my blind spots.”

McGinnis says he was so instantly impressed with Scheyer’s disposition and forward-thinking imaginative and prescient that he proclaimed on the finish of their first cellphone name that Scheyer was destined to change into the subsequent head coach at Duke — i.e. Coach Okay’s alternative.

Scheyer laughed out loud.

Since that introduction, although, and after almost two years of normal dialog plus a handful of on-campus conferences, McGinnis can’t say sufficient about Scheyer’s mixture of self-belief and introspection, the best way he trusts his instincts and preparation but additionally understands his shortcomings.

Scheyer, in spite of everything, reached out of his personal accord, wired to hunt self-improvement.

“People who are self-aware like that, who understand their limitations but are so inherently pushed to grow and who will go to great lengths to do so, man, look out,” McGinnis says. “Those are the people who are dangerous.”

Initially, McGinnis had Scheyer take a profile check with the outcomes serving to inform the duo of the traits and strengths Scheyer ought to search in his assistants.

Scheyer additionally participated in a handful of mock interviews and used these experiences in spring 2021 when he grew to become a prime candidate for head teaching openings at UNLV and DePaul. (UNLV employed Kevin Kruger; DePaul went with Tony Stubblefield.)

Then in May 2021, when Krzyzewski held a shock staff-only assembly at Duke to announce the 2021-22 season can be his final, Scheyer and McGinnis modified gears. He had a brand new software to file.

“Now we began prepping specifically for the Duke job,” McGinnis says.

Along with constructive reinforcement, McGinnis reminds Scheyer they first linked up so the previous navy chief might present sincere, direct suggestions. Some of that has been essentially harsh.

Earlier this fall, when Scheyer expressed annoyance relating to the shortage of urgency and productiveness his assistant coaches had proven to a selected process — however then steered round a agency reprimand in that morning’s workers assembly — McGinnis hit him straight. That’s on you, man.

“Every time a leader points a finger, I’m really quick to remind them that there are three or four pointing back,” McGinnis says. “So they have to ask themselves some hard questions. Did I give my people clear direction? Did I give them the resources they needed to be successful? Has our training been adequate? Do I have the right person, just in the wrong role? Jon has to ask those questions of himself.”

Using suggestions from so many across the Duke program who continuously praise Scheyer’s form and pleasant nature, McGinnis additionally supplied some seemingly counterintuitive recommendation.

“You have to stop being so damn nice,” McGinnis says.

That, he emphasizes, means Scheyer has to “sharpen his fangs,” defending his time and changing into extra direct and demanding when anybody in this system — his program — will not be assembly the usual or tending to enterprise with correct function.

McGinnis reminded Scheyer that as exhilarating as changing into the Duke coach has been, he now could be making an attempt to outlive inside a shark tank. In a cutthroat sport inside a blue-blood program with the grandest of expectations, Scheyer can ailing afford for his program to slide primarily based on small lapses in focus, focus or competitiveness.

In latest months, McGinnis urged Scheyer to transition from his consolation zone of being a top-tier recruiter and extremely revered assistant coach into the simple head honcho at Duke. He should proceed studying the right way to delegate, handle his time and create accountability from everybody beneath his command.

McGinnis additionally gave Scheyer a well-liked SEAL crew mantra: “Move fast and break (stuff).” It’s a reminder to experiment, take possibilities and be taught from errors on the fly.

“Mistakes are opportunities for growth when they’re handled the right way,” McGinnis says. “Jon needs to make a bunch of those.”

With a smile, Scheyer presents a substitute for his mother’s “exhausting” label.

“I’d say I’m relentless,” he says. “I don’t stop. Honestly. Failure, success, I keep coming.”

Maybe that’s a part of what McGinnis means when he alludes to Scheyer’s “greatness X-factor,” that infectious quiet confidence that so naturally resonates.

“There’s a saying in my world that when all hell is breaking loose and they’re screaming and crying, look for the quiet guy,” McGinnis says. “Because he’s about to chop fence and go type some (stuff) out.

“Jon is that guy. He just has that way about him.”

VII: Creating a bond

That manner about Scheyer already has caught his gamers’ consideration.

Forward Jacob Grandison, a graduate switch from Illinois, acknowledges this landmark transition within the historical past of Duke basketball and all the eye and stress connected. But he additionally has been drawn to Scheyer’s equanimity.

“He’s kind of Tom Brady-esque,” Grandison says. “He’s always pretty calm, even in the fast-paced environment he’s always in. It’s calming for us to see him be as calm as he is. You already feel his confidence. And that creates trust.”

Scheyer needs his gamers to have that perception in him. Just as he needs them to decide to self-improvement and bond with one another.

He understands the concept of replicating his school journey is far-fetched. Teams hardly ever have three and 4 seasons to jell anymore, to expertise hardship, to mature and develop. It’s his responsibility to hurry up that development.

Still, the DNA of championship groups stays principally the identical.

“You have to be tough,” Scheyer says. “You have to form trust. You have to communicate well. Even though all of this is on a different timetable than when I played, as far as how long you have to develop that, it doesn’t make it less important. You just have to be more creative with how you accelerate all of that.”

On a Thursday morning in September, Scheyer requested his gamers and coaches and a number of other others from the Blue Devils program to return to Cameron Indoor Stadium earlier than dawn for a team-building exercise.

He had invited singer, songwriter and Duke alumnus Mike Posner to share the story of his profession breakthrough and subsequent battles with the trimmings of fame.

Posner additionally meant to steer the Blue Devils via a Wim Hof respiration routine, a demanding meditation train designed to provide an virtually trance-like state of leisure whereas difficult members to check their limits via breath.

It’s not precisely the commonest 6 a.m. ritual for younger grownup males. So the preliminary skepticism from gamers and coaches was anticipated.

Somehow, although, over a span of fifty minutes or so, the moods swirling inside Cameron grew to become palpable. Some gamers skilled numbness of their fingers and toes and profound lightheadedness. Others briefly misplaced connection to time.

“That was weird,” says Blue Devils heart Ryan Young, a graduate switch from Northwestern. “We were doing it for almost an hour. But when we got up, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you if it had been 10 minutes or 2 hours.”

Others reached depths inside the Wim Hof technique that created an intense emotional launch accompanied by uncontrollable tears.

“At the end of it, we got closer,” Grandison says. “When it got emotional for certain guys, there was a space for them to express what they felt. That all goes into the deposits of building a team.”

Assistant coach Amile Jefferson, an admitted “phobia guy,” confesses he checked out fairly early on the breath-holding orders but nonetheless discovered his option to a contemplative state.

“It offered all of us time to reflect,” Jefferson says. “It was cool being with our group inside Cameron and having that moment to reflect on all that has been done in this gym. Those banners hanging above us. The floor we were on. Just thinking of all the winning that’s been done and the fans who have been here.”

To be clear, Cameron was empty.

“But you could feel the aura,” Jefferson says. “This place has a presence.”

Perhaps this was Scheyer’s new various to typing out a stack of letters. And in a lot the identical manner he used summertime dodgeball competitions and a area journey to the Drive Shack golf vary to reinforce chemistry, the Wim Hof experiment had its function.

“Those moments build a bond,” Jefferson says. “When you get to March, March asks, ‘What did you do in June and July, August and September?’ And to be honest, at that stage, you’re only as strong as your team’s bond. We’re creating that.”

VIII: Prepared for the job

When the news broke in June 2021 that Scheyer was Duke’s chosen one, selected to replace Krzyzewski as the Blue Devils coach, the reactions from these closest to him have been comparable. As Sean Wallis places it, he was a bit stunned however then once more not stunned in any respect.

“Of course it was Jon,” Wallis says. “Of course.”

Lance Thomas, Scheyer’s buddy, Duke classmate and co-captain throughout their school enjoying days, had rapid and full confidence within the transfer. Thomas at all times admired Scheyer’s basketball IQ however emphasizes how Scheyer’s pluck will feed a think-big mentality for your entire program.

“Jon has always been a cocky little SOB,” Thomas says. “But that didn’t stem from conceitedness. It’s tied into his preparation. It’s like if you’re going to take an enormous check and you’re feeling that surge of confidence since you spent all week learning.

“Jon is very confident because he has put in the work and the time. That brand of confidence spreads like wildfire.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down school basketball and the remainder of the world in 2020, Scheyer took his pursuit of management data to an virtually obsessive degree. He learn books, listened to podcasts, took on impartial analysis initiatives. Whatever he might get his palms.

He listened to motivational talks from Brene Brown. He learn “The Inner Game of Tennis” and “Atomic Habits.” He did in depth analysis into the climb of Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay, who was employed as an NFL head coach at age 30, went to his first Super Bowl at 32 and gained the Lombardi Trophy final season at 36.

What began as an effort to organize for a head teaching gig someplace remodeled — as soon as Duke’s succession plan for Krzyzewski solidified — into preparation for the Blue Devils job particularly.

Scheyer studied UCLA’s program from the mid- to late Nineteen Seventies, studying extra concerning the Bruins’ journey after the legendary John Wooden retired. He regarded into what occurred at North Carolina within the early 2000s, when just some years after Dean Smith retired, the Tar Heels program hit a quick however sharp decline.

He grew to become fascinated with the best way Steve Jobs reinvented the tradition and imaginative and prescient at Apple, then took the corporate to unprecedented heights.

“I believe in preparation fueling confidence,” he says.

Scheyer believes his wealth of basketball experiences is greater than adequate to offer him each credibility and a deep library of data. Plus, for greater than a 3rd of his life, he has been beside Krzyzewski — 4 years as a participant and 9 as an assistant coach — taking a grasp class in basketball, management and crew constructing.

Thomas says outsiders ought to perceive the depth of that union and its significance to what’s forward.

“For as long as I’ve known Jon, he has studied the game so much that it’s second nature for him to be able to make a read on the fly,” Thomas says. “He trusts his intestine as a result of he understands the sport at a deeper degree than most. Plus he has had one of the best mentor in sports activities. So if he ever had a query, he was getting one of the best recommendation and one of the best counseling from a legend who has seen the whole lot.

“Think about that. You’re pairing someone who is an absolute basketball junkie and a devoted student of the game with the best teacher possible. It’s a match made in heaven.”

IX: Under the shadow

Even now, although, the historic significance and magnitude of this subsequent step for Scheyer doesn’t at all times compute for these closest to him.

“Our big hope for Jon was that he’d be good enough to play high school basketball,” his mother says.

Laury nonetheless has episodes when she awakes in the midst of the night time and may’t absolutely comprehend all of this, that it’s her son who made this exceptional rise however now faces the calls for and stress that include it.

“It weighs on me,” Laury says. “I really have those moments. It’s like, ‘Oh, my God. This is really happening.’ You’re in disbelief. You’re fearful. You’re excited. It’s all of that.”

Scheyer’s buddies, household and mentors can’t assist however fear about how he’ll handle the extreme time calls for of his new position; how he’ll deal with dropping and all of the elevated scrutiny; how he’ll discover life stability that may permit him to stay well-adjusted and linked along with his spouse, Marcelle, and their three kids: Noa, 4, Jett, 3, and James, 6 months.

Then they remind themselves that Scheyer will determine it out.

“Jon always figures it out,” his dad says.

Scheyer understands his latest problem, not less than for the foreseeable future, will include fixed reminders of the magnitude of changing Krzyzewski. His shut buddies from dwelling identified final winter that in their lives there had been six U.S. presidents however just one Duke basketball coach.

Scheyer’s household has remarked that his workplace at Duke overlooks Krzyzewskiville, the place college students camp out for admission to video games; that his practices are held contained in the Okay Center; that he’ll coach his dwelling video games on Coach Okay Court beneath a banner that acknowledges Krzyzewski because the NCAA Division I document holder for profession victories.

Oh, and only for good measure, Krzyzewski nonetheless has his workplace one ground above Scheyer’s within the castle-like tower connected to Cameron.

“But no pressure,” Jim Scheyer says.

Somehow, little of that is formidable to Scheyer. Where others might even see Coach Okay’s large shadow, Scheyer feels his presence. He is aware of all they skilled collectively and the way it formed him. He additionally is aware of he nonetheless has Krzyzewski as a useful resource, in a position to choose his mind or just assume out loud nearly each time he needs.

“I’d be an idiot not to use that,” Scheyer says.

Scheyer marvels on the really feel Coach Okay at all times appeared to have, in a position to strike the proper tone with an intuition for when to get throughout his gamers and when to be a supply of encouragement and reassurance.

As a lot as something, Scheyer appreciated how Krzyzewski didn’t appear to have an off swap, how on recruiting journeys or postseason decompression getaways to Las Vegas, he was at all times taking notes, brainstorming, searching for new concepts.

“The most important thing I learned from him is that it never stops,” Scheyer says. “Ever. The degree of self-discipline, ardour and dedication you must need to be that profitable is unbelievable. He was a machine.

“Coach lost a lot of games. But he never lost a game because he wasn’t prepared. His commitment to preparation was as extraordinary as I’ve ever seen.”

X: ‘It’s yours now’

On the ultimate weekend of final season, Scheyer walked out of the tunnel on the Superdome and onto the courtroom for Duke’s Final Four conflict with rival North Carolina and was immediately intoxicated.

Damn, what a sense.

“Just an incredible buzz,” he says.

In Coach Okay’s last season, on the finish of an emotionally taxing journey, a hungry Blue Devils squad had surfed the NCAA Tournament’s harmful however exhilarating break virtually completely.

Over a demanding nine-day span, with West Regional wins over Cal State Fullerton, Michigan State, Texas Tech and Arkansas, Duke punched its ticket to the Final Four.

Scheyer mirrored on how a lot that group skilled and endured — within the season’s last 5 weeks alone.

In Krzyzewski’s last sport at Cameron Indoor Stadium — amid unbelievable pomp and circumstance and in entrance of 96 former Duke gamers — the Blue Devils have been shocked by North Carolina.

Every week later, after a pair of bounce-back wins within the ACC Tournament, the Blue Devils have been toppled once more within the convention title sport 82-67 by Virginia Tech.

Still, there was one thing inside that group’s resolve, one thing about its collective drive and mettle that portended a magical run if the gamers might stick collectively and apply the teachings they have been studying on the fly.

That’s why this system’s seventeenth Final Four journey resonated so deeply for many who have been part of it.

“We faced a unique brand of pressure,” Scheyer says. “But I think our group really developed that feeling of, ‘We know we all need each other.’ ”

That, to Scheyer, is the good things, the key ingredient, the gasoline for extraordinary achievement.

History will present Duke’s fairytale ending was changed by what many take into account a nightmare — a four-point loss within the nationwide semifinals. To freakin’ North Carolina. In Coach Okay’s last sport.

Make no mistake, Scheyer understands the ultimate levels of that sport supplied his newest reminder of what a high-wire act it’s when a crew is searching for to make historical past.

“I still look back on a bunch of the key plays in that game,” Scheyer says, “and you recognize how crazy small the margin for error is. It’s a free throw. It’s a blockout. It’s a rebound. It’s a loose ball.”

Over the offseason, Scheyer watched the closing minutes of that loss extra instances than he might depend. He took stock on the championship-worthy performs the Blue Devils made and people they didn’t.

A clutch 3-pointer by Wendell Moore Jr. A capturing foul on Jeremy Roach. Two missed free throws by Mark Williams. The dagger 3 that North Carolina’s Caleb Love hit, someway, over the outstretched left arm of Williams and his 7-foot-7 wingspan.

In a bizarre manner, whereas uncomfortable reminiscences have been triggered, Scheyer skilled an endorphin rush that crammed the motivation tank.

Failure, Scheyer has seen over and over, is definitely a how-to information.

That’s why, even with just one participant again who performed in that season-ending loss, Scheyer hasn’t shied away from referencing the heartbreak.

“We talk a lot about the details,” he says. “If we’re talking about a rebound, you need to go get the ball. That might be the difference between winning and losing. If we’re talking about setting a screen or fighting through a screen, that might mean two points. And that might be the difference between your season ending or you going on to reach incredible heights.”

Has the agony of the Final Four loss to the Tar Heels dissipated? Hell, no.

“You learn how to hate it,” Scheyer says. “You learn from it. And then you figure out a way to chase another opportunity just like it.”

Hours after that loss, Scheyer discovered his option to Krzyzewski’s lodge room in New Orleans to go to and decompress and stayed previous 4 a.m.

“That for me was a special moment I’ll never forget,” he says. “Coach Okay was at peace. He actually was. You consider the astronomical numbers of his profession — the wins, the Final Fours, the nationwide championships. He had earned his alternative to be in all these moments.

“And he understood that night that our team gave it everything they had. Our coaches gave everything they had. We were one play away from playing in the national title game.”

Krzyzewski confirmed no indicators of bitterness or remorse. He remained open about his disappointment however honest in his gratitude that he and his crew had the chance to take that stage and take their swing.

His interior peace that night time was strengthened by his unwavering perception in this system’s future — and in Scheyer specifically. He had nice conviction within the succession plan Duke put collectively. Scheyer already had assembled an unmatched seven-player recruiting class that included 4 five-star prospects. That’s one option to ease the transition.

Krzyzewski additionally had seen, for 9 seasons, how Scheyer invested in his teaching climb, learning the X’s and O’s, studying the right way to recruit on the highest degree and, maybe most significantly, strengthening his capacity to attach on a deeper degree with gamers.

The lengthy record of latest Blue Devils standouts who take into account Scheyer a trusted confidant consists of Jayson Tatum, Tre Jones, Tyus Jones, Luke Kennard, Jack White and R.J. Barrett.

“He’s a keep-in-touch guy,” Blue Devils assistant coach Chris Carrawell says. “It’s about relationships with Jon. And he does an amazing job of maintaining those relationships. It’s not just a transaction with him. … Jon’s a connector.”

When the torch was handed, Krzyzewski supplied simple recommendation.

“Just go for it,” he informed Scheyer. “You’ve been a part of us building all of this and sustaining it. It’s yours now.”

As a participant, Krzyzewski at all times admired Scheyer’s really feel for the sport and supersized fuel tank: “Jon never got tired.”

Krzyzewski recognized one other power of Scheyer’s as a participant that’s sure to catalyze his growth as a coach.

“Jon was alert,” he says. “And if you’re alert, you make performs. You anticipate performs. The greatest gamers are alert. Jon was alert when he was in highschool after which he grew to become much more in order he developed his talents. Now, if you happen to can mix alertness with confidence, look out.

“If you’re alert, you see things. Then you have to be confident enough to instinctively react. That’s who Jon became. And that’s who he will become as a coach.”

Whenever outsiders ask Scheyer about his wishes for his legacy as Duke’s coach or how he’ll survive amid the stress of making an attempt to observe Krzyzewski, he laughs and rapidly emphasizes he’s too busy making an attempt to place collectively a apply plan for the week to assume on such grand ranges.

After Friday’s win at Cameron, Scheyer is precisely 1,200 victories shy of his predecessor, which means if he remained undefeated via the top of the 2052-53 season, he may be capable of catch Coach Okay by the point he’s 65.

In some methods, the absurdity of that provides a right away stress reliever.

Krzyzewski’s “Just go for it” pep discuss got here with a reminder to Scheyer to remain genuine and stay current inside the challenges of that day or week.

“Don’t ever go to that place where someone tells you you’re trying to fill someone else’s shoes,” Krzyzewski says. “You can never fill somebody else’s shoes. And why would you want to? Fill your own damn shoes. And make those the biggest size you can make them.”

Scheyer reminds himself at all times to observe his instincts, even with the understanding they gained’t at all times be proper.

“You have to have amazing trust in yourself,” he says. “But you also have to be kind to yourself when you make mistakes.”

Scheyer is aware of the stakes and the stress of what he has taken on however will get juice from that. He acknowledges his impatience may change into a weak point at instances.

“There’s a process to so much of this,” he says. “Inevitably, you have to experience some ups and downs and learn through that. Well, I don’t want to go through the downs. And that can be a flaw of mine. I know that. But I’ve also surrounded myself with people who know that about me and can be helpful.”

Scheyer is aware of his historical past. He has skilled profound disappointment and championship euphoria alongside his journey.

In that picture he messaged his household on July 13, there was acquainted vitality in his smile.

“I’m thankful and grateful,” Scheyer says. “There’s no doubt. At the same time, I’m hungry. And I am driven to make the most of this opportunity.”



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