Former Maccabi Tel Aviv player Jon Scheyer. (Facebook) (Facebook)
Jon Scheyer

Jon Scheyer, who played basketball with Maccabi Tel Aviv, is set to take over at Duke University from legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

American-Israeli basketball player Jon Scheyer is expected to become the new coach of Duke University’s Blue Devils men’s basketball team. He will replace legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski, who is retiring, Sports Illustrated reported Wednesday.

Scheyer himself is a former player at Duke and will have big shoes to fill. Duke is the fourth winningest college basketball team in America and Krzyzewski is considered one of sport’s greatest coaches of all-time.

Scheyer, 33, played his college ball at Duke from 2006 to 2010 and was named an all-star in his final season when he captained the team to another national championship. However, the six-foot-five guard was passed over in the 2010 NBA draft, and after a few injuries he signed with the famous Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team in 2011, acquiring Israeli citizenship at the time.

After an injury shortened his career as a player, he went back to Duke in 2013 and joined the coaching staff, becoming associate head coach in 2018.

Aside from being an integral part of Duke’s basketball program and helping launch the careers of several Duke players who are now in the NBA, Scheyer was named head coach for the U.S. men’s basketball team in the Maccabiah games in Israel that were supposed to be held this summer but are now delayed until 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Jon’s pedigree cannot be matched; few people have had such an accomplished career in basketball collectively as a player and coach,” Josh Schachter of Maccabi USA said last August when Scheyer was announced as coach. “We could not be more excited to have Jon lead the United States Men’s Basketball team at the 2022 Maccabiah. The young men selected to the team will have an opportunity to learn and be mentored by one of the premier basketball minds in the world.”

Born and raised in the Chicago suburb of Northbrook, Scheyer was a standout in high school, where his performances earned him the obligatory nickname “The Jewish Jordan.”

His pursuit of excellence was reflected at an early age. As a high school player, one evening he decided he would finish training only after scoring 50 consecutive free throws without a miss. After scoring 49 in a row, he missed the 50th shot. His father told him it was enough, but Scheyer insisted on staying and completing the mission, and he started throwing free-throws again until he made it to the 50th consecutive basket.

It is not clear yet if his promotion to head coach will leave him time to come to Israel next year to coach at the Maccabiah tournament.

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