Scheyer brings competitive fire to Blue Devils

People from Chicago grow up with certain holiday traditions-the giant tree in Daley Plaza, the Christmas windows at Marshall Fields and the Proviso West Holiday Basketball Tournament, which has showcased some of the best high school talent for the past 45 years.

Eleven teams that won the tournament went on to win the state title the same year. And 24 players who participated in it-including Isiah Thomas, Glenn Rivers, Juwan Howard, Michael Finley and Kevin Garnett-have or have had careers in the NBA or ABA.

But on Dec. 29, 2005, in a place so steeped in basketball history-and in front of a capacity crowd of almost 4,000 that included Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski and assistant Chris Collins-current freshman Jon Scheyer made history of his own.

With a 35-game winning streak on the line and his then-No. 1 Glenbrook North team down double-digits to the host school, Scheyer scored 21 points in the final 75 seconds of the quarterfinal game.

Glenbrook lost 85-79, but that night the Northbrook, Ill.-native finished with 52 points and broke 10 tournament records.

When a shot was waved off in the final 10 seconds because of a charging call, however, there was one record Scheyer didn't break-the Glenbrook North record for most points in a game, 54. That belongs to Collins.

"That game was certainly an amazing game," Collins said. "He broke every other record I had at that school. That was the last one I was holding on to. We always joke how that one call kept me in the record books."

While that offensive foul might have been his holiday gift, Collins and the Duke staff won the ultimate prize in landing Scheyer. The 6-foot-5 guard went through a very publicized and difficult recruiting process, torn between Duke and Illinois-which is led by Bruce Weber, the brother of Scheyer's high school coach.

"I think he's going to have a special career," Collins said. "He'll have a chance to be an impact player right from the start."

The kind of immediate impact Scheyer will have, however, will be quite different than the one he imagined only weeks ago.

With the injury to point guard Greg Paulus, Scheyer has been thrust into the position of interim point guard until the sophomore returns.

"One thing I know is that he was looking forward to going to college so he could get open looks-to wait on the wings and get his shots-because in high school he was always the one drawing the defenders," said Dave Weber, Scheyer's high school coach. "That'll be the adjustment for him, being able to bring the ball up and create shots for himself."

But Weber has confidence in Scheyer's ability to play the point at the collegiate level because of his ball-handling skills.

Even though Scheyer's thin frame does not seem that physically imposing, Weber said Scheyer improved upon his strength every year in high school. By his senior season, Scheyer was almost always the strongest player on the court-and the fastest.

"He really got explosive," Weber said. "Every year his first step just got that much quicker."

Weber also cited the success of North Carolina's sophomore point guard Bobby Frasor, who played the two-guard at Brother Rice Academy in Chicago's Catholic league and made a similar transition last year to the one Scheyer is making now.

Perhaps the aspect of Scheyer's game that will prepare him the most for the season to come, though, has nothing to do with his skills on the court.

"The thing that really struck us about him was his love for the game," Collins said of recruiting Scheyer. "He has a great passion for basketball, and he was always a guy who loved to play in the big games."

The man who coached Scheyer in those big games, including the 2005 Illinois State Championship, felt the same way.

"It's not about his game or his shooting, really," Weber said. "The thing that made him special was his competitiveness. His will to win was unlike anyone's I'd ever seen."

Scheyer, himself, is ready to take his competitive attitude and natural skills to the next level.

"I think people's reactions when you go to Duke, you're just going to be another player," Scheyer said. "I knew all along I was going to get a chance. As the season goes on, I'll be able to figure out what my role is more and more and see where I'm going to fit in. I'm just going to make plays and do whatever the team needs to win. That's the main reason I came here-to win games."


Share and discuss “Scheyer brings competitive fire to Blue Devils” on social media.