In the wake of Jon Scheyer's decision to pursue his professional basketball career in Israel, a longtime scout, coach and observer charges that Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski "betrayed" Scheyer and didn't give him an opportunity to reach his full potential in college.
Don Konopacz describes Scheyer as "a microcosm of almost all white players today regardless of height" and blames the NCAA for installing a very short three-point line "because white players weren't having much impact in the NCAA tournament and the cheating for black athlete was getting out of hand.
"This way, the short three-pointers more than offset the dunks and drives to the basket of the more athletic players. The NCAA did this to help white players have an impact on the game but at the same time it ruined the future of a lot of great white players who could have reached their potential and easily made it to the NBA."
Players like Scheyer, who wasn't selected in the NBA draft after his senior season, a rarity for an ACC Player of the Year. Why? Scheyer was a better player coming out of high school than he was coming out of Duke. He was never coached to his full potential," Konopacz insisted.
"The NBA is a league for guards and small forwards. Scheyer is a guard and the guards have to guard on defense first of all. Most guards in the NBA can create their own shot, penetrate and make the defense rotate, which leaves a player open. Scheyer doesn't have those aspects in his game.
"When Krzyzewski moved Scheyer from two-guard to point-guard, it was because he couldn't create space for himself to get his shot off or drive to the basket. At the point, Scheyer brought the ball up, passed to another perimeter payer and went off to the side of the three-point line to wait for someone else to kick the ball to him so he could get his shot off. He didn't have point skills."
But Krzyzewski said Scheyer was one of his favorite players. "Any day with Jon Scheyer was a good day," Coach K. told Sports Illustrated.
But did he feel guilty that he hadn't developed Scheyer to his full potential?
After Scheyer's sophomore season, Konopacz informed other coaches and critics that Scheyer wouldn't be the "next Jerry West" as some had envisioned. In fact, Konopacz claimed Scheyer wouldn't even measure up to former Lyons star Jeff Hornacek, who walked on at Iowa State and later had a successful 14-year career in the NBA. "I predicted Scheyer would struggle to make the NBA," he said.
"I believe players like Hornacek, Chris Mullin and Mark Price became NBA All-Stars because they played without a short three-point line on the court. Instead, today's players lack complete games. Big men should get film of Dan Issel and Jack Sikma, who were great insideoutside players they could learn from. How about Kevin McHale with his 'up and under' moves that complemented his shooting? A lot of these kids today are just like a one-crop economy.
They seem to do only one thing in basketball when more is needed to be successful."
It is argued that the Scheyers of this world are having parameters set on their games. Coaches are not coaching them so they improve and reach their potential. Instead, coaches only think about winning at any cost and, if they win, they can get a better coaching position and more money.
"They dont seem to care that the players they left behind are only a fraction of what they should be," the scout said. "I blame these coaches for betraying players like Scheyer and not coaching them in order to reach their potential."
Konopacz insists, as do many old-time coaches, that the game was better was better prior to the introduction of the three-point shot, when set plays and X's and O's were more than scribblings on a chalkboard, before the word 'athleticism' became a buzzword.
"I wish we could go back to the pre-1972 era when there was only one state championship game in Illinois. That probably isn't possible," he said.
"But let's at least eliminate that extremely short line that seems to divide the court between shooters and rebounders.
"Let's get back to basics such as give-and-goes, back doors, mid-range jump shot and pick-and-rolls, to a time when centers and power forwards established themselves down in the blocks with a variety of moves. Remember when Mark Aguirre would muscle his way in the blocks and take that feathery turn-around jumper or went up and under while laying the ball off the glass?
"Don't you miss the great moves and action around the basket? The whole object of the game was to get the ball as close to the basket as possible for the easiest possible shot. The team that did that most frequently would probably win the game. Coaches played chess matches to master the art of getting the highest percentage shots.
"I also miss players developing skills in order to have a complete game. Let's have coaches start coaching players to reach their potential again. I can understand when a player doesn't work hard enough to reach his potential but I can't understand when a player isn't coached and given the chance to reach his potential. They asked Jon Scheyer to do one thing--shoot--and the rest of his game got rusty."