How does one follow in the footsteps of a giant? After an all-time great has left any profession, his successor always has big shoes to fill. The same applies for college basketball. Mike Krzyzewski, better known as Coach K, the winningest coach in Division 1 basketball history, has announced his retirement from Duke University after coaching the Blue Devils for 41 years. Coach K has won five Division 1 basketball championships, made it to 12 Final Fours, and has won three gold medals coaching the US men’s national basketball team in the Olympics. Shortly after his announcement, the university announced that associate head coach, Jon Scheyer, would become the next head coach.
Born in Northbrook, Scheyer was a basketball prodigy from a young age and received his first collegiate offer from the famous Coach Tom Crean at Marquette University when he was only in eighth grade. Scheyer attended Glenbrook North High School and led the team to an Illinois state championship with the only known high school state championship basketball team to have an all-Jewish starting lineup. He later committed to Duke University to play under Coach K. The 6’5” guard was known for his passing ability, three-point shot, and his high basketball I.Q. However, it was apparent that he was not an NBA-caliber player and went undrafted in the 2010 NBA draft.
Scheyer played for the Miami Heat Summer League team and suffered an eye injury after being poked in the eye by current Jazz player Joe Ingles. He then obtained Israeli citizenship and signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israel’s best team and a Euroleague powerhouse. In 2013, Scheyer returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach under Coach K. He stayed with the program, and progressively moved up in the ranks. In 2018 he was promoted to associate head coach.
Scheyer is also a proud Jew. Scheyer was raised in a Jewish home and had a bar mitzvah. His faith led him to his decision to play with Maccabi Tel Aviv. He said, “I am looking forward to the opportunity to play for a team with such great tradition.” Scheyer was a 2006 inductee into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, and in 2007, an ESPN writer said that, “He could eventually become one of the all-time great Jewish basketball stars, right there with Dolph Schayes.” Regarding his coaching ability, Coach K said, “He’s one of the smartest coaches in the country, to be quite frank with you. Nobody knows that as well as I do.” We wish Jon nothing but success and are excited to see a Jew coaching at the highest collegiate level in one of the best programs in the country.