“I think it’s a mindset. It’s something we’ve drilled a lot. We’ve spent many film sessions talking about it, but the reality is we’ve had other times in some of our games where we’re more athletic or able to go up and get it. Virginia Tech is a good example – [Justyn] Mutts and [Keve] Aluma, they go to the boards. If shot goes up and you don’t put a body on them, they’re going to make you pay with it, not only for put backs but for kick-out three’s. Our guys, they’ve taken responsibility. They know it’s something we need to improve on. For us as a coaching staff, we need to do a better job of coaching it and teaching it. That’s something hopefully tomorrow night, we show some improvement in that area.”
On what the team is focusing on for its matchup against Virginia Tech on Wednesday:
“[Mike Young] is a big time coach. They have a great coaching staff. Virginia Tech – they always know who they are and they play to their strengths. They’re a team that really makes you work on the defensive end. They do a great job of passing, screening, cutting. We always talk about having discipline on the ball, but in this game you need to have great discipline off the ball as well because they make you pay. They put five guys on the floor that can shoot it and they have a player in [Keve] Aluma who they can throw the ball to and he can really create offense for them. It’s a great challenge. I have a lot of respect for Coach Young and what he’s done. I think our guys are anxious to play our first ACC game.”
On if the team has taken a new approach in reaction to games around the country being canceled due to COVID-19:
“I think it’s made us all more aware for our interactions and just being as safe as possible while still living our life. For our guys, masking up, washing our hands – those little things. We all want to get back to normal so badly, so you let some of those things slide. This has been a good wakeup call, forget about for us but I think for our country and for everybody that we need to still be safe and handle things the right way. Our guys want to play games. They’ll do whatever it takes in order for that to happen, and we’ll continue to stay diligent in that.”
On what the coaching staff saw in graduate-transfer forward Theo John when recruiting him:
“We all felt like we knew Theo so well – C-Well [Chris Carrawell] the best, coaching him at Marquette. For me, I watched Theo play since he was in high school playing with Tre Jones and Gary Trent and these guys. We felt like we knew him really well, and then of course having a close relationship with Wojo [Steve Wojciechowski], following his progress at Marquette. Just the physical presence – I think last year, we really felt like we got hurt by that, getting beat up on the boards and not having a physical presence down low. The defense, the rebounding and just the game experience. When we found out that there was a chance that we could get Theo, Coach literally almost got out of his seat. He jumped at it. I think we all felt that way, it was unanimous. The thing that’s been so great about Theo is what a great teammate he’s been. First of all, he doesn’t really sit down much when he’s on the sideline, but he’s always in Mark [Williams’] ear, pushing him, telling him to keep going, to get better. The guys look up to him like a big brother. He’s been terrific for us. The biggest thing we had to make sure is that he was healthy. That’s something we still keep an eye on, but his body is in a really good place and he’ll continue to make a big impact for us.”
On what aspect of the team has been improved the most from last season:
“What jumps out to me is the way we’ve taken care of the ball. We’ve been really solid and sound with the ball, which has created more open opportunities and the scoring has come easier for us. I think that’s where it starts. We have four guys on the floor – no matter who it is, really – that have made good decisions. That’s translated into shots, it’s also translated into getting fouled more. Then, just the physicality of our team. We’ve been a team defensively and offensively that we can be a load, just because our perimeter is strong and big, and then obviously inside we start the game with Paolo [Banchero] and Mark [Williams] and you come off the bench with Theo [John] or an AJ Griffin – that’s pretty good for college. Those two things have really stood out to me.”
On what challenges Virginia Tech presents defensively:
“I think it starts with how hard they play. They play their butts off. They really guard the ball and they don’t necessarily pressure you all the way out to half court, but when you’re in the scoring area, they put pressure on the ball. When you drive, there’s defenders to help and they ratted the ball. They’re actually one of the leaders in the country in terms of turnovers. It’s not necessarily with steals, but it’s turnovers that they force you into with how they close on the ball so quickly on drives in congested areas. It starts there, and then they’re experienced, so they know their rotations, they know game plans, they can do a lot of different things, different coverages, so it’s a great challenge for us. It’s not like it’s anything different from what we’ve done, what we want to do as a team. We want to play together, play strong but especially first ACC game, playing through contact will be a big thing for our guys.”
On how important freshman forward AJ Griffin being in the rotation is for the team:
“It’s huge. AJ – I can’t say enough about his attitude, first and foremost. He went over a year without playing, so I think naturally there’s some rust that he had to shake off in practices. But he stayed with it. When AJ is on the floor, we look different as a team. He just brings a physical presence, his shooting and scoring ability, and I think you guys have had a chance to see this past week how good of a passer he is. He makes really good passes, hitting open men for three’s. We need to keep him in there, keep him going because I think the strides that he’s going to take from this point in the season to the end of the year will be tremendous.”
Over the years fans have fretted, argued and wildly speculated on who would one day replace legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski at Duke. For some of us covering the program, it became a running satire on how many take a crack at a prediction. It almost became distracting and made me personally wonder why people wanted to look ahead with a wildly successful career taking place.
At some point and time, Mike Krzyzewski had to retire. With a fast-paced and changing world throttled by COVID restrictions, Team K came to the realization the time was now. But that realization could not take place if there were not a viable replacement.
Behind closed doors, it was decided that former player and lead assistant Jon Scheyer had emerged as the top candidate. He had been Coach K's right-hand man for a few seasons and the decision was made that he would lead the post-K era for Duke Basketball.
The talk for years has been nobody in their right mind would want to replace Mike Krzyzewski. For those who did not live the entire K-era at Duke one needs to know it took a lot of work to build the program to where it sits today as a part of college basketball royalty.
Scheyer steps into a much different environment than Krzyzewski did. The program is well established. There will be no building just maintaining a high level of competitiveness. He also has a mentor close by in Krzyzewski, and a former teammate in the affable Nolan Smith on one side and a seasoned Chris Carrawell on the other making for immediate chemistry.
Many may not remember the top recruits did not always come to Duke. Krzyzewski was an unproven coach at Duke and he had multiple misses and growing pains before landing the class which would lead the program to a return to the national title game in 1986. What happened since that time is that the Blue Devils won five national titles.
Fast forward to 2021 and Mike Krzyzewski has prospects calling him to come to Duke. And Scheyer takes over when the iron is hot, a system is set and winning is the norm.
The first order of business for the regime at Duke is naturally recruiting. Early returns are sparkling as the Blue Devils landed combo guard Jaden Schutt to a verbal commitment last evening.
Schutt joins a couple of five-star prospects in Kyle Filipowski and Dariq Whitehead. That three-man class currently ranks atop the nation and the Blue Devils are not finished adding players for many spots could be open.
Krzyzewski could have only dreamed to have a class coming together from day one when he arrived at Duke. Scheyer has been handed a near-perfect situation when he takes the reigns after this season.
What we are seeing has been well thought out with concern for the timing of the pending change. Duke did a good job of keeping it all close to the vest as the decision Krzyzewski would retire earlier this summer.
The one thing Jon Scheyer could immediately do is hit the recruiting trail hard. There were questions on how he might fare with a legend retiring. He is after all, basically just 1-0 at Duke in a game he coached last season.The one thing Jon Scheyer could immediately do is hit the recruiting trail hard. There were questions on how he might fare with a legend retiring. He is after all, basically just 1-0 at Duke in a game he coached last season.
We will all have to wait and see how Scheyer does in the X's and O's department which is an entirely separate discussion. But he has hit the trail running as they say and he did so when major adjustments were required in the process of recruiting.
Hitting the recruiting trail in 2021 is different than the early 1980s under Krzyzewski during his first season. The recruiting climate is even vastly different than a season ago. Scheyer and his staff of Nolan Smith and Chris Carrawell have adjusted well to the new era to date.
That adjustment included navigating restrictions in how coaches got to view prospects. Schedules changed, opportunities for viewing or having actual contact with kids were different. There has been a complete overhaul by shoe camps of late and the staff has adjusted accordingly leading to early success.
It was not that long ago that the fanbase just wanted to see a prospect verbally committed under Scheyer to get the ball rolling. A month or so later he has three in the bag while hotly pursuing others in the same class and beyond.
Duke has adjusted quickly to stabilize the program with Krzyzewski's last season approaching. This points to a team effort where Scheyer is surrounded by a young crew on and off the court that can grow with him.
Scheyer will benefit from a burgeoning new system in place around him and working together with new Athletic Director Nina King and the social media aspects in the NIL era. And thanks to his mentor Coach K he will have facilities and staffing designed to keep Duke Basketball running hot for years to come.
Only time will tell if the transition works but Scheyer is positioned to maintain excellence at Duke. Of course, when the ball is tipped off as he takes over the sidelines there is an altogether new pressure of strategy, in-game adjustments, and such.
There will in time be some growing pains for Duke trying to replace the winningest coach in history. But Scheyer is competitive and he will be allowed to grow into his role which the fanbase is looking forward to and his arrival on the recruiting trail is making the dreaded but inevitable transition from Krzyzewski tolerable to the fanbase.
Scheyer must now continue a balancing act of helping to prepare this year's talented team while always recruiting. Scheyer is young, hungry, and probably a little afraid to fail and that makes for constant work.
The one thing which is evident and it is gaining attention from the college basketball world is that Jon Scheyer is scoring some early wins on the recruiting trail.
DURHAM, N.C. – Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski announced Tuesday the promotion of Nate James and Jon Scheyer to associate head coaches. The two former Duke captains had previously served on Krzyzewski’s staff as assistant coaches.
James just completed his 11th season on Duke’s staff, including his eighth as an assistant coach. Scheyer has served on Duke’s staff for five seasons, including the last four as an assistant coach. The pair have helped the Blue Devils compile a 117-32 (.785) record, a national championship (2015) and an ACC Tournament crown (2017) over the last five seasons.
“Nate and Jon are former captains who clearly understand Duke and our culture,” said Krzyzewski. “They’re both national champions who’ve played an integral role in our success over the past two decades. As good as they were as players, and they were both excellent, they have been remarkable, distinguished and instinctive coaches who have earned this opportunity. With Nate and Jon assuming additional responsibilities in their associate head coach roles, I am excited about the makeup of our staff moving forward.”
The announcement was made following the departure of associate head coach Jeff Capel to Pittsburgh as the Panthers head coach.
Duke finished the 2018 season with a 29-8, reaching the Elite Eight for the 15th time under Coach K.
Welcome to another edition of Blue Devil Nation's Duke Basketball Notebook, where we take a look at the happenings around Coach K's program with some personal commentary thrown in.
Josh Hairston recovering from surgery
If you have ever been to a game at Cameron, you have seen the extroverted Josh Hairston getting the Cameron Crazies revved up during player introductions. It's one of the reasons Josh is a fan favorite. Please send Josh well wishes as he is recovering from surgery to repair ligament damage in his right thumb. Josh is expected to be sidelined for 6-8 weeks. He injured himself during practice last season, but played through the pain. He joins Marshall Plumlee among the walking wounded; Plumlee has been seen in a cast in and around Durham. Although nobody likes being injured, we can at least take comfort in knowing that all Blue Devils receive some of the finest medical care available through Duke University, one of the nation's leaders in health care.
And Duke will play Michigan
The ACC/Big Ten Challenge is alive and well for now, but with the added depth in the ACC, it makes one wonder how long the league coaches will want to schedule an extra big-time game going forward. But this coming year, on December 3rd in Cameron, Duke is slated to take on a Michigan team that will be one of the nation's best. The Crazies and the entire Duke fan base love these kind of games, so expect this one to be one tough ticket. Adding to the interest is that the beastly former Duke recruit Mitch McGary comes to town wearing Maize and Blue. Interestingly, the day he signed with the Wolverines, he mentioned the possibility of going to Cameron and getting booed. Congratulation, Mitch. That dream will come true. It will be interesting to see how Coach K and company defend the aggressive McGary with a roster with some challenges in the post. That is the Blue Devils' only apparent weakness at this point, so look for them to try to compensate with solid play on the wings.
Wiggins vs Parker
Over the past three years, Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and to some extent, Julius Randle have played musical chairs as the top-rated high school prospects in the nation. Wiggins signed with Kansas yesterday, spurning the ACC's Florida State Seminoles. But ACC and Duke fans will still see him up close and personal when Duke travels to Chicago for the Champions Classic in November, where they'll face Kansas. That means a matchup between Parker and Wiggins. Parker, of course, suffered an injury setback and many feel that may have cost him the top spot in the mythical rankings, but regardless, having watched these kids play over 20 times each in my coverage of AAU ball, I can tell you that they are both supremely talented. Look for the game to get a lot of hype from the Parker-Wiggins angle, but the winner of the Duke vs Kansas matchup will come from how the rest of the Blue Devils and Jayhawks perform.
As an aside, the Blue Devils will also play in the pre-season NIT, where they could run head-on into Arizona, another team destined to be in everyone's pre-season top 10. So, do you think Duke will be atop the strength of schedule ratings next year? Of course they will. This looks to be one of the most challenging slates in years, and the full schedule won't even be released until it is hot-hot-hot outside.
Kyle Singler takes his own path
Former Duke forward Kyle Singler has always marched to the beat of his own drummer. One attribute Kyle has is something that few men in the game possess these days: patience. Singler joined the Detroit Pistons this season after spending time playing for CB Lucentum Alicante, a professional team in Spain. When Singler was on the court this season, the Pistons flourished, so he earned plenty of playing time in his rookie season this year. His play earned him a berth on the recently released All NBA Rookie 2nd team, which is quite an honor.
A tougher path for Scheyer but the road is now clear
First of all if you missed this recent article, you should take time to read it. Jon Scheyer is like many young men growing up playing the game in Chicago in that he has long been a gym rat. Scheyer loves the game of hoops and after helping Duke to win a National Championship in 2010, he sought to continue a career in basketball. There were setbacks along the way, but none more devastating than an eye injury in an NBA summer league game which would eventually cost him his career as a player. Scheyer has now landed on his feet in Durham. As Coach K (per Duke Sports Information) said after his hire, "Jon Scheyer is one of the amazing champions we’ve had in this program and he’s certainly one of the greatest young men to ever wear the Duke uniform." Scheyer like many other Duke grads under Coach K came to the one man who could help him, the one man who could help him remain in the sport he loves -- Mike Krzyzewski. One of the things which often goes unseen in the world of Duke Basketball is the importance of the "family" nature of the program. Former players can always seek wise counsel and an open door on the top floor of the Schwartz Butters Athletic Building on the Duke campus. Scheyer will now take on Nate James' former role on the staff as a Special Assistant. During this time, Scheyer will have plenty of time to consider which direction he wants to go with his career. And for the record, the Special Assistant spot is fast becoming a very coveted position in that is offers a springboard into the world of Duke Basketball.
James hits the road running
Nate James gained an assistant coaching job a few years back, but when Jeff Capel, a former player, became available, it only made sense that he move into that assistant's position, as Capel had previous head coaching experience. The move for James back to the Special Assistant role was only temporary and he was still able to learn from the best, which included Capel, Wojo and the now-Head Coach at Northwestern, Chris Collins. James is no rookie, and he's hit the road running on the recruiting trail where he has been one of the lead guys on several key prospects. There is much more information on Coach James and his impact available to you when you join us as a member of Blue Devil Nation Premium, our subscription service. For instance, James is also taking a lead role with ...
... Tarik Black
Black was on the Kansas campus yesterday, a day after his visit to Duke, which by all accounts went well. Duke and Black are in a bit of a win-win situation should they choose one another. Duke offers the best roster situation for Black, monster national exposure and he can play for a school which has had NBA first round picks of late with players that didn't always see major minutes in college. Of course, there is no lack of time at Duke for Black, as the Devils need a big man to round out next season's roster. If you read my comments on Scheyer, you will realize that Black can become a part of the Duke family and the family takes care of its own. Black would get maxiumum national exposure with the Blue Devils being a media darling and he would also have an opportunity to achieve his dreams of a championship. I don't think it will be long before we know where the former Memphis player is going, so look for a decision sooner rather than later. Many feel that Josh Pastner never really used Black correctly while at Memphis, while others point to Black's not being a good rebounder as the primary issue. Either way, Black is a most coveted "get" at this juncture. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out. There are a lot of rumors on this one, but mostly just folks' speculation taking on a life of its own.
It is also worth noting that Coach Nate James is the lead assistant on the recruitment of Black. James actually took a long look-see at Black during his junior season in high school, so Duke was involved with the young man earlier than most realize. In fact, Blue Devil Nation interviewed Black that same season and looking back on that chat, it was clear that Black valued education and hoops. Which is the combination that Duke still offers.
Blessed with a reported thirty-six inch vertical, a 6'11," 247 lb. frame, and the mind of a high school salutatorian, Miles Plumlee is a rare specimen. On a relatively young squad, Miles, a twenty-three year-old third generation college basketball player, has started more games, forty-one, than any current Duke player. The team will need him to provide leadership, experience, and low-post production to a more featured frontcourt.
Already a national champion, having grabbed three rebounds in nine minutes against Butler in the 2010 Championship game, the eldest of four Plumlee progeny brings the hunger of a man anxious for one last good meal. The psychology major has tried to take advantage of the opportunities presented to him this summer. Initially, the one-time engineering student with an entrepreneurial zeal worked in New York for Jesse Itzler, a serial entrepreneur who created Marquis Jet. The Winona Lake, Indiana native followed that experience up by participating in the college portion of the LeBron James Skills Academy, as one of the twenty invited players, including his talented and gracious brother, Mason. Most recently, the former high school track star enjoyed a thirteen day around the world trip with his Duke University teammates as part of Duke's Friendship Games, playing in Dubai and three Chinese cities, Kunshan, Shanghai, and Beijing.
In the three games competing against the Chinese junior national team, Miles Plumlee, who is the team's second-leading returning scorer, rebounder, and shot-blocker, averaged nearly eleven rebounds and eleven points, while providing a vital role as a low-post scorer and offensive rebounder (corralling eight offensive rebounds in the final game against China's large front court).
After Coach Trent Johnson left Stanford for Louisiana State, Miles Plumlee opted to open up his recruitment at Christ School in Arden, NC and ultimately decided to enter Duke University. At the time, he had a reputation for being more of a face-up four and had contributed to consecutive State Championships for the Greenies. Last summer, Miles transformed his physique and game by adding nearly twenty pounds of muscle. Near the end of the 2011 season, Coach Krzyzewski reinserted the eldest Plumlee into the starting lineup, where the Ft. Wayne-born big man immediately stepped up his game in the ACC Tournament, highlighted by his play against Maryland (10 points, 9 rebounds) and using his length against North Carolina's finesse frontline (helping to hold Henson and Zeller to a combined 9 for 26 in the ACC Title game). Based upon his recent play, it appears as though he has continued to become more acclimated to the transition from a floating big to the team's biggest physical presence, while seeking to maintain the athleticism that once allowed him to perform a 6'9" high jump.
This year, with both brothers Marshall and Mason on the Duke's campus, Miles Plumlee would like to take more of a leadership role in his final season of college basketball and go out with a second National Title. Miles spoke with BDN about a variety of topics, including stepping out of his comfort zone and into an increased leadership role, his relationships with both the coaching staff and his brothers, his team-centric focus, and an entrepreneurial future.
Maybe we can start with both leadership and your role on this team.
You know that’s the biggest thing I’ve been thinking about in this off-season. I’ve been focusing on it and, you know, I had an experience where I was doing an internship with one of the coaches’ friends.
I'm definitely going to get to that in just a moment...
Yeah, well, it kind of goes hand-in-hand.
The biggest reason I wanted to go there is because I know [Jesse Itzler]’s a great leader in what he does and I learned a lot from him. I picked his brain and I got a lot of great advice. He started his own company a few times now, so he’s been successful and that was one area where I think it’s going to help me, but also coming back and being an older brother my life, you know, trying to apply that to the team. Just trying to bring that brotherhood to the whole team.
I wanted to get to the issue of you and brothers, too. (laughs)
What are the expectations from your perspective and the coaching staff? What have they asked you to work on?
Well, I don’t have any personal accolades in mind, but all of my coaches know how high my ceiling is and I know how high it is. So, I’m just trying to reach a level that I’m really happy with, but more importantly, I’m concerned about the team competing for national championships.
Yes, absolutely. I mean you’ve already accomplished that once.
Yeah, but now to do that and be a leader on the team would be another thing. That’s the biggest goal on my mind.
Is being a captain something you aspire to? Have the coaches talked about you being captain or part of a committee, so to speak?
Yeah, I know, they said they’re going to wait and see how everything goes in China. They want to see how people’s roles surface, but, you know, I’ve been through more than anyone else on the team.
I’ve played with a lot of great leaders, like Jon Scheyer, a lot of great seniors growing up.
Who was the best leader you’ve played with? Is Scheyer the best?
He and Lance did a great job that year. There’s a reason why we won it. What was the initial question?
It had to do with leadership and whether you aspire to be a captain.
Oh, yes, they’re not going to make a decision until after China, but I’m already trying to assert myself and get out of my comfort zone because I’m not the most vocal guy.
Neither am I, but I try to push myself too.
Yeah, well, I’m trying to talk more on defense and also off the court. Yeah, you know, defensively, I can talk to people on the court, but I’m really trying to become a leader off the court. It’s not something I’m really comfortable with, but it’s something that I’m trying to grow into. I want to get that role.
Just out of curiosity, as you were saying it, I was thinking about being the oldest brother. I’m the oldest brother as well and by nature, you almost have to a leader among your younger siblings. Do you think that will help and have you found that to be the case?
Definitely, I think it’s a huge advantage in my position. I don’t think I’ve been the best big brother in the world, but I think there’s some things I’ve done right, and if I can learn from them..
God knows, I haven’t been. (
laughs) Yeah, you know, I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but all of them are experience that maybe an older brother has to have.
They can, sort of, learn from your own mistakes.
Yeah, yeah. Then, they can make their own. (laughs)
How do you think you’ve developed, both physically and from a skills perspective over the past few years? Physically, you’ve gotten a lot bigger.
Yeah, you know, I’m still continuing to push my body.
Always a work in progress.
I’m trying to get stronger and that, but I got really pretty athletic when I got to college and you know, I was more of a face-up player, but I’ve tried to adapt my game and become more of a back-to-the-basket player since coming to college.
Yeah, I wanted to touch on that as well. Yeah, so you know, that’s probably been my biggest focus and the other stuff’s there and we’ve got such great guards coming to Duke each year. Yeah, maybe down the road I’ll use that more at the next level, but right now I want to make the biggest impact I can for our team and so that’s inside, giving us a low-post game.
In terms of mentoring, it sort of goes hand in hand with leadership, but how do you feel you’ve done as a mentor to your brothers and some of your future teammates this year?
I think it’s something I’m going to have to make a conscious effort to do. We have so many young guys and I need to mentor them and show them the ropes. We need them to win. They don’t even realize it yet. I mean, I was in that position as a freshman too, I didn’t know where I was at. We’ve got to bring them on board real fast and mentoring will be a big part of that.
You know him better than anybody, what dimension do you think Marshall can bring to program? Maybe give a scouting report on him to the fans that may not have seen him play.
Yeah, he's surprised me. He’s really grown into his body. I think the number one thing if you’re scouting him is his motor. He never gives up, he goes full blast all the time he’s out on the court.
He’s a really nice kid, too.
Oh, yeah, he’s really nice, but he’ll take it to you on the court.
Yeah, he’s very serious and competitive on the court though.
Oh, yeah, definitely.
He said he’s very good at video games too.
Yeah, he is. Me and him always go at it.
In terms of a scouting report...
Yeah, a scouting report..he’s going to be going at you every minute of the game. He’s going to be busting his ass 100%. Yeah, I think that’s his biggest attribute right now is just running the court.
How do you think he differs from you and Mason at the same point in your lives?
You know, his whole life he always wanted to be a big guy for some reason, and it just so happened that he kept growing. You know, a lot of guys want to be big buys, but you can’t control that. So, I think he’s grown up wanting to be in the post doing the dirty work. He has fun just running the court and getting the ball. A lot of big guys don’t want to do that, they get spoiled, lazy, and they don’t want to do all of that work if they’re not going to get the ball every single time. That’s huge for a team. That changes the game.
Yeah, it does. I was just curious about that. What are you trying to work on this summer primarily on the court?
The same thing, but you know, just taking that post game to another level and getting more comfortable. I really thought that I made huge strides towards the end of last year, just having confidence when you get the ball in the post, and wanting the ball, and in the end, that makes a huge difference in the game when it comes down to the wire. You’ve got to want it.
Is it a "no hesitation" kind of thing for you?
Yeah, exactly. I really think that’s been my biggest setback is really getting out of your own head. You catch it and you immediately react.
I remember going to one of your practices a few years ago and Coach Krzyzewski was talking about how you were very hard on yourself, but that was a few years ago.
Definitely, that’s been my biggest problem. In practice, I play great for three years. Well, my freshman year was kind of tough, but for the last few years I played great in practice, and now the thing is to try to translate it to the games.
And it can happen, it’s just a matter of time and concentration.
Yeah, absolutely it can happen.
Can you touch on being an engineering student and how that differentiates your game? I remember you used to be an engineering student.
(laughs) Oh, no, that was way too much.
I was an Economics major there.
Yeah, my first semester there was the hardest of my life.
What’s your major now?
Psychology. You know, I think it’s something that's applicable to anything I do in life, but, you know, it’s way more flexible for basketball.
Way more merciful too. They’re tough in terms of grades too.
Oh, yeah, it’s just tough.
The reason I was asking was because I was wondering if you saw the court differently by having somewhat of an engineering background.
Oh, yeah, you know I always thought I see angles differently. I don’t think a lot of basketball players realize what they’re seeing. I think it gives me a better sense of what I’m seeing...helps to visualize.
Would you describe your summer job as more of a finance job? How would you categorize it?
Yeah, well, it’s sort of hard to explain, it was really more of a company that Jesse Itzler founded, more of like a marketing thing. He founded Marquis Jets and now it’s like more of a marketing agency and a brand incubator. We came up with a few of our own products.
Would you like to get into that post-basketball? Perhaps be an entrepreneur?
Yeah, you know, that’s what it really opened my eyes to. An amazing opportunity would be to play in the NBA and not just squander it.
I'm glad you have your eyes wide open. There are so many sad stories, unfortunately.
Yeah, I know there are. Yeah, I want to make things happen. There are a lot of guys from Duke that have done great things like here or in China and you know, really have an entrepreneurial mindset just like him, and you know, it was a great experience.
What is your emotional reaction to finally get the opportunity to play with all of your brothers and be at the same school together? Excited? Happy?
So excited! I really think this is going to be the funnest year by far. You know, I’ve always had a blast, but you know, me and Marshall, we grew up hanging out together like non-stop and I was so much older than him, but, now, you know, we’re competing on the same level and it’s an adjustment.
Do the three of you ever just walk into the Y or something like that? Did the three of you walk in and people just go “Holy cow?"
(laughs) Yeah, I mean, we did, but we didn’t used to be this tall. Yeah, the last time I was at a place like that was back home and I was only like 5’9” or 5’10” as freshman. But I think it’s going to be a blast. It’s going to be a great senior year.
And what’s Mason’s take on all of this?
Oh, yeah, he’s been great. We both just love Marshall to death. It’s just fun to have all three of us together again.
Can you talk about the addition of the freshman class and Coach Capel? Those are the two big post-season additions to the program.
Yeah, I mean, everybody in the freshman class seems to have a great attitude. They’re really skilled, they’re really athletic. I think they all really have a great attitude, they all really want to get better. Coach Capel is just a great addition because he knows so much, he’s coached great players, and I love his positive attitude. He’s really good at pumping everybody up.
He can also relate to players. He’s still young and yet he’s got that head coaching experience, which is a great combo to add the staff.
Yeah, everybody’s pretty young and it’s a lot of fun. It’s a great group to be around.
What’s your relationship like with both Coach K and Coach Wojo?
First of all, I’ve got to say it’s like family. I mean, they’ve been there for me in more than just basketball. That’s just one small part of the whole thing. You..you come to Duke and I had no idea what it was all about. You become part of this family. They’ve become like fathers to me. There’s a bond. I come to them for advice on everything. I know..I know I’m going to stay in touch with them for the rest of my life. It’s something that’s really special to me.
I don’t think a lot of recruits necessarily realize that, to paraphrase Coach Holtz, it’s not a four year thing, it’s a forty year thing.
No, you know, I don’t think a lot of them realize it. You don’t realize what you’re signing up for. If they did realize it, I think even a lot more would jump on it, but I know that I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
How comfortable do you feel you are with your back-to-the-basket game and how far out do you feel your range is at this point? Because you still have that face-up game that you were talking about before.
I’ve always felt that I’m really versatile and now it’s not just a matter of how to use it, but when and where to use it, what opportunities you have and reading the defense. So, becoming a lot smarter and putting it all together. It’s something I’ve really worked on in the last year.
And in terms of your back-to-the-basket game?
Yeah, I’m realizing how much you can control the game with your back to the basket. Seeing, you know, guys like Tim Duncan and those kind of guys..taking your time, seeing the floor.
Is that what you worked on at the LeBron James Academy?
Yeah, you know, it was great playing against some of the best players and some of the best bigs. I was just trying to see where I stack up.
How did you do and what was the toughest guy for you to defend?
Dude, you know, everybody’s tough. Everybody’s good. I feel like I did as well as anyone. It was a great experience and I’m looking forward to where it takes my game.
What are your expectations or goals for the team this year? A National Title?
A National Title all the way, that’s all I’ve got to say. We’ve always got talent. I just feel like we’ve just got to bring it together and develop that chemistry along the way.
Thank you very much, Miles.
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DURHAM - The Coach K Academy is in the stretch run of their annual event and if one were to stroll about campus you may well run into a former Duke player. BDN caught up to Jon Scheyer recently and here is what he had to say -