D-League, NBA / Mar 9, 2011 / 12:00 pm

Now In The D-League, Jon Scheyer Is One Step Closer To The NBA

Jon Scheyer

Jon Scheyer (photo. Lara Lee)

Jon Scheyer played 144 consecutive contests for the Duke Blue Devils in his four years in Durham, so when he didn’t play a single game of basketball for 223 days, it got to him.

“I counted the days before I got back,” says Scheyer, who made his return Feb. 22 with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the D-League after being sidelined with an eye injury he suffered playing for the Miami Heat in Summer League. And after watching him take the court, you could see that he was more than happy to be back.

The former Duke star has had his share of ups and downs in the last 10 months, but through it all he has kept a good spirit. The ups included leading Duke to the program’s fourth national title in April, while being named a Second Team All-American and finishing ninth on their all-time scoring list with 2,077 career points. The downs, on the other hand, included an ill-timed case of mononucleosis during NBA Draft workouts, and going undrafted.

“I wasn’t at my best,” says Scheyer. “I needed to gain weight after the season and I ended up losing weight because of the mono. I believe everything happens for a reason, I really believe that. I’m just trying to make the most of it and work as hard as I can.”

Then came the eye injury.

In a Summer League game against Golden State, Scheyer was unintentionally poked in the eye by Warriors forward Joe Ingles, causing a tear in his retina.

“I knew it was bad from the beginning,” recalls Scheyer. “It didn’t feel good, something was off about it.”

Scheyer endured rehab that forced him to keep his head and his eyes still.

“I was pretty restless, pretty bored for a couple of months,” he says. “You just have to sit around, but you also can’t be moving your eyes around, so you’re sitting and just looking straight ahead. It was pretty brutal.”

After two months of rehab, he was able to try out for the Los Angeles Clippers before eventually getting cut.

“I knew it was going to be tough for me to make the team because their roster was basically filled,” says Scheyer. “But I was really happy that I did that even though I didn’t make the team. Just to get that experience and know I could still play at that level. It was a big thing for me to go to camp with them. I’m thankful to them for letting me come.”

After being cut from the Clippers, Scheyer took a break from the game to let his eye fully heal. The time off gave the former Illinois Mr. Basketball a new perspective on playing the game.

“Some people say it’s a rough patch, but for me it’s been a real eye opening experience, no pun,” jokes Scheyer. “I think it gave me a chance to get a lot better at some things.

“How many players get a chance to get four, five months to work on their game and target specific areas where you think you need to get better? I had the chance to do that and I think it made me a better player.”

When he was finally ready to get back on the court, Scheyer signed with the Vipers on Feb. 17, joining the team right after the All-Star break. And for his fans, they might have noticed that he had to add a new piece of equipment to his ensemble while playing: Goggles.

“I just clean them off before each game and they’re good to go,” says Scheyer. “For the most part I don’t even notice them. I’m used to them by now.”

He’s still a little rusty, trying to get back to game form, but in six games with the Vipers, Scheyer is averaging 9.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists while shooting a rocky 34 percent from the field. But he says his eye has not affected his shooting.

During warmups before his game against the Springfield Armor (see highlights below), Scheyer took an errant shot that hit the top corner of the backboard, earning him an odd look from teammate Patrick Sullivan. Scheyer looked at Sullivan and smiled, then proceeded to hit the bottom of the net on the next four.

Like every D-League player, Scheyer’s goal is to make it to the NBA. He was close this summer, and is determined to get back to that level. But for now he’s just happy to be back.

“I might have some bumps in the road, but it’s a process and I’m just getting through that,” he says. “I’m really excited to be playing. Every day I’m thankful to be out here playing.”

Follow Terrence on Twitter at @Terrence_Payne.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
  • http://www.illstate.com Chicagorilla

    Yet ANOTHER failed Mcdonalds AA from duke. Coach K sure knws how to teach the game doesnt he? Just from Illinois he already fluked over Jon Scheyer, Sean Dockery, Mike Thompson. Why these parents keep sending their kids to him is beyond me. Had Jon and Dock just went to IL(i think Jon played for Bruce Webers brother in HS) or Depaul they wouldve been better prepared for the NBA. That duke system is only good for college.

  • hahns

    nice crossover at 1:15

  • Derik

    @ 1: 100% agree, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith’s stock also dropped dramatically because they went to Duke

    Jon Scheyer will never make the NBA, u gotta really dominate d-league to get called up, 9 ppg just won’t do it

  • s.bucketz

    mono???shouldn’t have been fuckin wit all them dirty white bitches at duke b4 the draft son!!ahahha
    jp tho..for some reason i actually like scheyers game and thas sayin a lot cuz i normally don’t like any of these pasty white boys from duke

  • hooper5013

    @1 and @3 Really? did you guys not see how much Coach K has improved every single player coming from the Olympic experience? Every single player! The problem is not the college games development of these cats its NBA owner drafting ticket sales (athletes ball handlers and dunkers) over skill set. Scheyer can play his ass off as can Nolan Smith and Singler. !

  • darko’s doughnuts

    Duke is Duke…they’re on TV more than Leave It to Beaver…re-runs…

  • darko’s doughnuts

    Nobody on this website knows enough about basketball to tell me who that quote is from…10,000 cash prize for anyone who guesses it…the clock is ticking gentlemen

  • focalmatic

    Pete Gillen…

  • darko’s doughnuts

    focalmatic wins!!!! 10,000 cash prize heading your way!!!!

  • daghost

    ^^^^^google has everything right? get the f**k out of here. lying ass nigga. like u really knew the answer. and on top of that, u really think a man who goes by “darko” (EPIC FAIL) really was gonna give you 10 stacks? PLLLLLLZZZZZZZ…GO TO SLEEP

  • darko’s doughnuts

    Keep da faith daghost…the spirit of Pete Gillen, and the Beaver, lives on…

  • http://brokejumper.com/ Adam Dickau

    Gosh it might just be me but he doesn’t look too impressive on that video, I can’t imagine him taking the ball up with Chris Paul or D.Fisher d’ing him up. What skills did he improve on while he was away? He looked better in college.

  • Joe Hamilton

    Scheyer will play in the NBA. Only anti-white racism which is extremely prevalent in the NBA will keep him out. Scheyer proved himself by leading Duke to the NCAA title last season. He was the leading scorer on the National Championship team. Comments criticizing coach K and Scheyer show the level of anti-white racism and very low IQs of the typical NBA fan.

  • Joe Hamilton

    TO Adam Dickau; You obviously know nothing about basketball and are very biased against white American BB players.

  • thedoc

    @Chicagorilla

    Where did these guys go to college?…

    Shane Battier
    Carlos Boozer
    Elton Brand
    Luol Deng
    Chris Duhon
    Mike Dunleavy
    Gerald Henderson
    Grant Hill
    Dahntay Jones
    Corey Maggette
    Josh McRoberts
    J.J. Redick
    Shelden Williams