Jonathan James "Jon" Scheyer (born August 24, 1987) is a professional basketball player. He currently plays shooting guard for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA D-League. He was a high school and college All-American, and was a training camp invitee with the Los Angeles Clippers. He was waived in the Clippers' roster reduction to reach the final roster of 15. He led his high school team to an Illinois state basketball championship, and the 2009–10 Duke Blue Devils to the 2010 NCAA Basketball Championship. He was a prolific high school scorer, and later an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) leader in numerous statistical categories, ranging from free throw percentage and three point shots/game to assists/turnover ratio.
A high school All-American, he once scored 21 points in a game's final 75 seconds of play in an attempt to spark a comeback. The 4th-leading scorer in Illinois high school history, he led his team to a state championship in 2005 and was named Illinois Mr. Basketball in 2006. He chose Duke, for whom he moved from shooting guard to point guard towards the end of the 2008–09 season, and was the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2009 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament.
In his senior year in 2009–10 as Duke's captain, he led the team to ACC regular season and Tournament championships and to the NCAA National Championship. He led the championship team in points per game, assists, free throw percentage, and steals per game. Scheyer was a 2010 consensus All-American (Second Team), a unanimous 2009–10 All-ACC First Team selection, and was named to the 2010 ACC All-Tournament First Team.
He played the most consecutive games in Duke history (144), shot the third-highest free throw percentage (.861), shot the third-most free throws (608), shot the fourth-most 3-pointers (297), and is ranked ninth in scoring (2,077 points). He holds the ACC single-season record for minutes (1,470 in 2009–10) and the Duke freshman free throw record (115), shares the Duke record for points off the bench in a game (27), and had the third-longest streak of consecutive free throws in Duke history (40). He was not drafted in the 2010 NBA Draft.
Scheyer was born in Northbrook, Illinois and is the youngest of three children of Laury and Jim Scheyer, who is the president of MCS Industries. He was raised Jewish. He began dribbling a basketball at age three and played in his first AAU national tournament six years later. As a youth, he played in a league called the Fellowship of Afro-American Men. He received a scholarship offer from Marquette University as an 8th grader.
High school career
Because Scheyer's talent was obvious by the time he was set to start high school, many people encouraged his parents to move so he could attend a high school with a powerhouse basketball program. The move was recommended so that he would have a greater chance of success. Scheyer shrugged off the suggestion, telling his parents: "We'll just do it here. We'll build the success at Glenbrook North." His father said: "I get chills thinking about it. That wasn't my vision. It wasn't Laury's. It wasn't his coaches'. That was Jon's vision, and it never occurred to him that anything else would happen."
Scheyer attended Glenbrook North High School and led the Spartans to an Illinois High School Association Class AA state basketball championship as a junior, a 3rd-place finish in 2003 as a freshman, and an Elite Eight appearance in the state playoffs three out of four years from 2003–06. Scheyer was known as the "Jewish Jordan", and the Spartans' state championship team is the only high school state championship basketball squad in the nation known to have included an all-Jewish starting line-up.
As a freshman, Scheyer led Glenbrook North in scoring and assists and was First Team All-State as a sophomore in 2004. Scheyer was the only non-senior among those First Team All-State selections and was the only underclassman on any of the first three All-State squads. As a junior, he averaged 26 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. His coach David Weber said: "I call him a combination of Larry Bird and 'Pistol' Pete (Maravich). He's got the flair, the passing abilities. He's got good size. He's a rare player in this day and age." Scheyer rose to national fame in his senior year by scoring 21 points in 75 seconds of play during a one-man comeback effort in the last minute and a half of a high school game against Proviso West High School, in an effort to keep alive his team's 35-game winning streak. It has been called one of the best performances ever on a high school court. He averaged 32 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals for the Spartans as a senior.
One example of his dogged pursuit of excellence is that while in high school, Scheyer refused to leave the gym one night until he made 50 consecutive free throws. After finally hitting 49 in a row, he missed on his final attempt. His father encouraged him to join him and go home, but – as his coach recalled – “Jon looked at him and said, ‘No. I’m starting over.’ Then he stayed until he made 50 in a row.”
Scheyer is the 4th-leading scorer in Illinois history with 3,034 points, and he is the only player in state history to finish his career ranked in the all-time top 10 in points (4th), rebounds, assists (6th), and steals (7th). He was named Illinois Mr. Basketball in 2006 by an overwhelming margin (receiving 217 votes, to 17 for the 2nd-place finisher), a high school All-American, a two-time Gatorade state Player of the Year, and a three-time All-State selection. He had a reputation as an exceptional 3-point shooter, a rangy, slick passer, a good defensive rebounder, and a big-game performer. In naming him to the Illinois First-Team for the decade, ESPN wrote that he was "one of the greatest Illinois high school players of all-time". He was also named to the century-list, the "100 Legends of Illinois Basketball (1908–2007)". Illinois Warriors coach Larry Butler said: "Jon Scheyer is one of the most prolific scorers I've seen in Illinois high school basketball. He was just the ultimate team player. Jon Scheyer would take the shirt off his back to win a game." A Chicago Sun-Times article observed:
Scheyer's offensive game is amazing ... He hits jumpers from all manner of pogo-stick angles. He can hit runners while shooting back across his body. He can drive and finish in acrobatic ways. His offensive repertoire of ways to score is like a magician's bag of tricks. Offensively, he is a modern-day 'Pistol' Pete Maravich.
Scheyer's final four college choices were Arizona, Duke, Illinois, and Wisconsin. On the one hand, his connection with Illinois was strengthened by the fact that his high school coach was Illinois coach Bruce Weber's brother. In addition, when he had been in junior high school, he had really disliked Duke's team, because all his friends liked Duke and he wanted to be different. Militating in favor of Duke, however, was the fact that its assistant coach Chris Collins had also attended Glenbrook North. He also believed that playing for the Blue Devils provided him with the best chance of playing in the Final Four. He ultimately chose to attend Duke, where he is majoring in History.
In the 2006–07 season he started all 33 Blue Devils games as a freshman, and scored a season-high 26 points in a loss to North Carolina on February 7, 2007. He led all freshmen in the ACC with an .846 free throw percentage, and was eighth in the ACC in minutes per game (33.7). He was an ACC All-Freshman Team selection, and was named "ACC Rookie of the Week" three times. He tied for second on the team with 39 steals, and averaged 12.2 points per game (third-best on the team). He also tied the Duke freshman record by making 115 free throws, and holds the third-longest streak for consecutive free throws made in Duke history at 40. Though not naturally a point guard, Scheyer spent some time playing the point due to lack of depth at that position. He felt it made him more of a complete player, and was a learning experience that made him more confident bringing the ball up court.
Despite the fact that he was a starter as a freshman, Coach Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K) chose to start Gerald Henderson, Jr., in Scheyer's place for the majority of the season. Scheyer started only once during his sophomore year, but played in all 34 games. On December 20, 2007, he grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds against Pittsburgh. He scored 27 points at Miami on February 20, 2008, matching the most points by a player off the bench in Duke history. His free throw percentage (.889) was 2nd in the ACC for the season, 12th in the nation, and 5th-best in school history. He had a team-best 2.24:1 assist-to-turnover ratio, averaged the third-most minutes-per-game on the team (28.3), was fourth in scoring (11.7), and was widely hailed as one of the country's top sixth men. He averaged 3.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.
Scheyer was named one of three captains for the Blue Devils for the 2008–09 season. He scored a then-career-high 30 points against Wake Forest on February 22, 2009. On February 19, Scheyer was moved from shooting guard, where he had played 91 games, to point guard; there he played well for the last 9 games of the season and into the post-season. As a point guard, he averaged 19.7 points and 2.5 assists per game, and committed 1 turnover a game. Florida State Seminoles men's basketball coach Leonard Hamilton said he thought Scheyer had a "calming" influence on the team's offense. He was big enough, when pressured, to put a smaller defender on his hip, and still bring the ball up court. Once he got up court and gave up the ball, he became an option himself on the perimeter for other driving players. And on defense he was big enough to bother most guards attempting to shoot over him.
Scheyer was 7th in the ACC in free throw percentage (.841) for the season, 8th in minutes per game (32.8), tied for 8th in steals per game (1.6) and three-point field goals made per game (2.1), and 18th in points per game (14.9). In the team's 36 games, Scheyer led the Blue Devils in minutes, free throws, free throw percentage, 3-point field goals, 3-point field goal percentage (.395), assists, and assists per game (2.8). He was named the MVP of the 2009 ACC Tournament after scoring 29 points in the championship game. Krzyzewski said after the season: "He's a great competitor. He handles the ball real well. He scores—he scored more when he was bringing the ball up than when he didn't bring the ball up. I think the more the ball is in Jon's hands, the better." Reflecting his off-the-court accomplishments, Scheyer was a 2009 ACC Academic Honor Roll selection.
Scheyer was again named captain along with Lance Thomas. Commenting on his play, Coach Krzyzewski said: "He understands, which most kids, believe me, do not, the value of the ball. He makes really good decisions with the ball, whether it's a pass, a shot, or the time on the clock." And: "Some of the plays he makes—you might not think he's that fast, but he has great body control." On December 2, 2009, he became the first Duke player to record 1,400 points, 400 rebounds, 250 assists, 200 3-point field goals, and 150 steals for a career. On December 16, he scored 24 of a career-high 36 points in the first half to lead Duke past Gardner-Webb. He shot 11-of-13 and hit a career-best seven 3-pointers while grabbing eight rebounds and getting nine assists. Jay Bilas of ESPN picked Scheyer as starting guard on his mid-season First-Team All-American team in January 2010, writing:Scheyer had one of the best assist to turnover ratios in the NCAA. No player in the country has been as efficient with the ball as Scheyer has been ... [H]e consistently makes good passes and good decisions. Scheyer leads the nation with a 4.8-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, and when guarded by smaller point guards he will work off the ball, and take advantage of defenders not used to playing off the ball.... There are several other guards who are having great seasons ... but there aren't many who have had comparable seasons to date.
ESPN play-by-play announcer Dan Schulman said: "He's not your prototypical break-you-down-off-the-dribble with blow-by-speed kind of point guard. I would describe him as a very cerebral player, a very unselfish player ... He's been one of the most effective point guards in America." ESPN's Doug Gottlieb said Scheyer was making an interesting case for national player of the year. On February 15, Scheyer became the first player to win the ACC Player of the Week award three times in the 2009–10 season; it was the fourth time he had won the award in his career. After facing him, North Carolina point guard Larry Drew said: "He's as crafty as you can get. You just don't like playing against players like that. He can shoot the ball well. He's quick enough. He's smart. He knows about angles. He's a good actor. And he can shoot." University of Maryland coach Gary Williams observed:Scheyer’s like an old-time guard ... in that he does everything, in terms of handling the ball, shooting the ball, playing defense.... that’s what makes him so tough, because he can do all those things and do them at a very high level for almost 40 minutes every game ... It's almost like having more than one player on the court.
ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Williams said in March that Scheyer had been great and was deserving of being the NCAA Player of the Year or perhaps a co-Player of the Year with Greivis Vasquez. Commenting on his demeanor, Sports Illustrated sportswriter Stewart Mandel wrote: "Scheyer is one of the shyest Duke stars in recent memory. The next time he brags or trash-talks will be the first."
After sinking a 3-pointer with 18 seconds left to seal a win for Duke over Georgia Tech for the ACC championship, Scheyer said: "This is really exciting. I could do this 100 times. This could never get old." Despite having struggled with his 3-point shot all game on 1–8 shooting, he said: "“Even though I wasn’t hitting, I still wanted the opportunity in the end to shoot the ball." "Scheyer made an unbelievable shot," said Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt. "If you’re a basketball fan, enjoy it for what it is." Coach Krzyzewski noted: "There’s something about Scheyer that produces wins.... He’s never afraid." Playing Baylor on March 28 in the Elite Eight, he recalled:There was a TV timeout with under four minutes in the second half. ...[W]e were tied, or down by one. There was 3:39 on the clock.... I came to the bench, and was kind of looking around. I thought: 'This is it. It is a three-minute game for our season, everything you've been working for your whole life.' I smiled, and went for it. That was the most surreal moment. That is a moment I'll never forget.
With 2:37 remaining, he hit a 3-pointer to put Duke ahead 67–61. The Blue Devils won as he finished with 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. In Duke's Final Four win over West Virginia, he led the team with 23 points while shooting 5 for 9 from 3-point range, with 6 assists, no turnovers, and 2 steals.
Duke won the national championship with a 61–59 victory over Butler, as Scheyer scored 5 of the team's last 10 points. After Butler's Gordon Hayward missed a last-second shot, a media member said to Scheyer: "In the movies, that goes in." Scheyer laughed, and responded: "Good thing this wasn't the movies then." Scheyer had 15 points in the win, and led the team with 5 assists. He became the second player to win an Illinois high school state championship and an NCAA Division I championship, the other having been Quinn Buckner, who won state titles at Thornridge High School in 1971 and 1972, and then was a champion with Indiana in 1976. Scheyer played a prank after Duke's win. He tweeted his more than 6,700 Twitter followers: "Hollerrrrr at me!!! 847-970-....!". But instead of including his own cell number, it was the cell number of his former high school teammate Zach Kelly. Even Sports Illustrated was taken in by the ruse. After Kelly had received more than 2,000 text messages and several hundred calls, Scheyer tweeted his fans, begging them to stop texting and calling his friend. Sports Illustrated featured Scheyer on the cover of their April 12, 2010, issue.
When the Duke team went to the White House in honor of their championship in late May, President Obama caught Scheyer off guard by calling him “my homeboy,” when he introduced himself to Scheyer, and then saying it again ("my homeboy from the Chicago area") when he said he had been following Scheyer since his high school days in Chicago. Scheyer said: “that was probably the coolest moment of my life." Obama also noted that Scheyer, Singler, and Smith were the top-scoring trio in the NCAA for the year.
Records and statistics
Scheyer set the ACC all-time single-season record for minutes played in 2009–10 (with 1,470, passing Dennis Scott). Scheyer said: "I feel as though this is what I've prepared my whole life to do. There's never a time in a game when I feel I'm winded." In the 2009–10 season, he also led the ACC in assist/turnover ratio (3.0; 2nd-best in Duke history to Steve Wojciechowski in 1997), free throw percentage (.878; 7th-best in Duke history), and 3-point FGs made (2.8 per game). He also tied for 2nd in games with 20 or more points (17), and was 3rd in scoring (18.2 points per game), 4th in assists (4.9 per game) and 3-point FG percentage (.383), and 7th in steals (1.6 per game).
For the season, he has also led the nation in assist/turnover ratio. He had 38 double-figure scoring games in the single season (tied for 3rd-most in Duke history with Elton Brand), 110 3-point field goals (the 6th-highest Duke season total; behind Trajan Langdon), 194 free throws (10th in Duke history, behind J.J. Redick), and was the 9th player in Duke history to average double figures for four seasons. Freshman guard Andre Dawkins said: "Jon’s the glue. He takes the big shots."
In his career, he played in 144 consecutive games (most in team history, tied with Chris Duhon), played 4,759 minutes (3rd in both Duke and ACC history, behind Bobby Hurley), had an .861 free throw percentage (3rd in Duke history, and 6th in ACC history), sank 604 free throws (3rd in Duke history, behind Christian Laettner and Redick), 297 3-pointers (4th in school history, ahead of Bobby Hurley, and 10th in ACC history), played 144 games (tied for 4th on Duke's all-time list with Duhon), and had 114 double-figure scoring games (5th all-time at Duke, ahead of Mike Gminski and Grant Hill). In addition, he had 208 steals (8th in school history, behind Grant Hill), and had scored 2,077 points (9th on Duke’s all-time list, behind Jason Williams and Gene Banks). Asked to comment on his having passed the career 2,000-points mark, he said: "That's a pretty cool thing. I don't know all the names [of those] who have hit 2,000, but it's a great list to be part of. It's not better than a win tonight, and going to the Sweet 16, but it's still a great honor."
He is the only player in Duke history to record at least 2,000 points, 500 rebounds, 400 assists, 250 3-pointers, and 200 steals in a career.
Scheyer was a 2009–10 consensus All-American (Second Team), a Wooden and Lowe’s Senior First Team All-American, and was named to the 2009–10 All-America Second Teams of the AP, National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), Sporting News, and U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA). In 2010 he was also a unanimous All-ACC First Team selection, an ACC All-Tournament First Team pick, and an NCAA South All-Regional and All-Final Four Team selection. In addition, he was named to the NABC and USBWA 2009–10 All-District teams, and the Jewish Sports Review Division 1 All-America team. He was also awarded the NABC Senior Achievement Award. He was second in voting for the ACC Player of the Year Award, to Maryland's Greivis Vasquez.
In 2010, Scheyer was one of 6 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award (as top college point guard; awarded to Greivis Vasquez), and one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award (as top NCAA Division I basketball senior; awarded to West Virginia's Da'Sean Butler). He was also one of 10 finalists for the John R. Wooden Award, one of 16 finalists for the 2010 Oscar Robertson Trophy, and one of 30 mid-season candidates for the 2010 Naismith Trophy, each a national player of the year award that in the end was awarded to Ohio State's Evan Turner.
Doug Gottlieb of ESPN opined in early January 2010 that Scheyer "is probably not an NBA player, but his Jewish faith allows him to get an Israeli passport, and he would be one of the most coveted players EVER for a team like Maccabi Tel Aviv."
David Thorpe, ESPN's resident expert on NBA rookies and noted trainer of NBA prospects, differed with Gottlieb. He noted most NBA teams would benefit by having Scheyer on their team as a sixth man. Chad Ford, ESPN's draft expert, rated Scheyer within the top-60 NBA prospects. Asked in March 2010 whether he feels he can make it in the NBA, Scheyer said he was confident he can.
By early April, most NBA draft analysts had him going somewhere in the second round, but Larry Butler, his former AAU coach with the Illinois Warriors who has also coached Andre Iguodala, Quentin Richardson, and Dwyane Wade, said:Talking to all my NBA resources in the last couple of weeks, he's moved up the ladder. He could be a late first-round pick. He's shown his toughness, his will to win. He brings all those little intangibles to the table that the elite players do. He's always making the right pass, always making the big shots, always making the big plays, always making his free throws.... The kid is a winner. He's always been a winner.
Eamonn Brennan of ESPN announced the results of his College Basketball Production-Only Mock Draft in late May, meant to indicate how NBA teams would draft if they focused only at how college basketballs players played in college. He ranked Scheyer 6th, saying that as a college player, Scheyer was "ruthlessly effective".
The Chicago Sun Times opined that coaches Phil Jackson of the Los Angeles Lakers and Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs might value Scheyer's ability to move without the ball, pass, and spot up for jumpers. And one scout pointed to his poise, leadership, feel for the game, threat from the perimeter, smooth stroke, textbook form, and the vital role he played in the championship run, saying Scheyer can hold his own in the NBA and could be a solid backup point guard/no-stats-All-Star similar to Shane Battier.
Scheyer signed with Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports. Scheyer missed the NBA draft combine in late May and lost 10 pounds as he battled mononucleosis, which had him out for approximately three weeks and also forced him to miss his graduation. In June he participated in pre-draft workouts for ten teams, including the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, New Jersey Nets, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, and Phoenix Suns. "I've spent more time at airports than with teams", said Scheyer, "but it's such a great opportunity."
The Dallas Morning News reported in May 2010 that a NBA draft projection of NBADraft.net had the Dallas Mavericks selecting Scheyer with their first pick of the draft (the draft's 50th overall pick). Bleacher Report carried a mock draft article predicting him being drafted 51st by Oklahoma City, and Yahoo carried one predicting he would be drafted 53rd by the Atlanta Hawks.
Draft Express compared 19 top shooting guards in the draft, on the basis of detailed points-per-possession statistics generated by Synergy Sports Technology. It found that Scheyer ranked as the most efficient overall scorer (at 1.054 PPP). His jump shooting ability when open gave him success in spot-up situations (1.16 PPP), but he also ranked well above average in isolation (.938 PPP; 3rd), and was the most effective pick and roll player on the list (1.16 PPP).
Duke Coach K said he could be a second-round pick,but I'm not sure if that's even the best thing for [him] because when you're a second-round pick, you belong to a team.... I think it would be better to go to the team that really wants [him] because there will be teams that want [him. He's] going to be [a] good pro.
He was not drafted, however, in the 2010 NBA Draft. Coach K elaborated on what he had said before the draft: "In the second round, it's better not to be drafted. As soon as the draft is over, if you are good enough, you will be invited by five or six teams, and you will have a chance to choose who you will play summer league ball with. I would be a little bit surprised if [Scheyer is] not on an NBA roster playing next season."
Scheyer was on the Miami Heat's 19-man NBA Las Vegas Summer League roster. Scheyer was elbowed and suffered a serious eye injury in the second of team's five game, sidelining him. His right eye required five stitches to close a cut to his eyelid, its optic nerve was injured, and he suffered a tear in the retina, which was re-attached surgically. He returned to the court wearing goggles, to protect the eye. Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt also approached Scheyer about playing in Europe.
LA Clippers training camp
On September 22, 2010, Scheyer accepted a training camp invitation with the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers. He was one of 18 players in camp, three of whom are undrafted rookies. Coach Vinny Del Negro observed:He just knows how to play, and that's a basketball skill. He's got such a nice feel for the game, and works so hard. There's not much maintenance with him. He doesn't make a lot of mistakes. This is a good chance to take a long look, and see what he can do here.
Rio Grande Valley Vipers
On February 16, 2011, Jon Scheyer signed a contract with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. A D-League team under the Houston Rockets. He reportedly signed with the D-League team after turning down offers from a French professional club, and also other D-League teams. It is reported that he healed from the traumatic eye injury that he suffered in the NBA Summer Leagues.