Former Blue Devil Jon Scheyer quietly made his NBA Development League debut last night with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, a franchise affiliated with the Houston Rockets and located in Hidalgo, Texas.
The defending-champion Vipers defeated the Texas Legends 122-112. Scheyer played a small but important role in helping the Vipers to their 100th franchise victory, with his first career NBADL basket stopping a Texas legends run in the second quarter. The former Duke captain posted 7 points, 4 boards and 1 assist in just under 22 minutes of play, shooting 3-for-6 from the field and 1-for-4 from 3-point range. The latter stat is likely to be of continued interest for NBA GMs.
Scheyer’s NBA future was put on hold after sustaining an eye injury last July while playing for the Miami Heat’s summer league squad. After a span of several months that saw him win a national championship and hit a game-winning 3-pointer in his debut for the Heat, the freak accident—initiated by an unlucky poke from Golden State’s Joe Ingles—proved an unfortunate break in Scheyer’s wave of momentum. Doctors later diagnosed Scheyer with optic nerve damage and a tear in his right retina. An injury initially presumed to be minor required three to six months of healing time.
Scheyer was invited to the Los Angeles Clippers training camp back in September but failed to earn a roster spot. The Vipers signed him last week, and he says his eye is fully healed and no longer affecting his play.
“I’m sure some people are wondering how I am with the injury,” Scheyer told David Hinojosa of The Monitor, a South Texas newspaper, Monday. “In a way, it’s been a good thing. I’ve had five or six months to work in the areas where I felt that I needed improvement. I’ve been thinking about how I can be the best I can be with the Vipers.”
Now that Scheyer is once again healthy, he should be considered a decent asset available for the taking for any offensively challenged NBA team. Ideally, he could play an offensively gifted, albeit undersized, shooting guard in a second unit. ACC fans realize he’d be a steal on a rookie scale or 10-day contract. Better yet for Scheyer, this has been a notoriously bad year for NBA first years. Assuming Scheyer can prove capable from NBA range, he may once again find himself playing on the big stage.
—Jeff Scholl contributed reporting