Was Jon Scheyer exploited?

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Was Jon Scheyer exploited?

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."

White Sox courting of Luis Robert leads to 'Christmas in May'

White Sox courting of Luis Robert leads to 'Christmas in May'

When he learned last November that elite talent Luis Robert could be available by June 15, Marco Paddy didn’t hold back: It was time for the White Sox make their move.

Much like with Yoan Moncada before, the team’s international scouting director had an extensive history scouting Robert, who on Saturday signed with the White Sox after he received a $26 million signing bonus. After watching him for five years, Paddy believed in Robert enough to recommend the White Sox pay several severe penalties to sign a player the franchise thinks could be an everyday center fielder with power.

By signing Robert, 19, the White Sox must not only pay a luxury tax of almost equal value to the bonus, but they’re also unable to sign any international prospect for more than $300,000 in each of the next two classes. But given the limited competition and the unique talent he saw, Paddy let the White Sox know Robert -- a potential top-30 prospect in baseball -- was a player they couldn’t afford to bypass. Thus begun the team’s courtship, one the Cuban cited as having a major impact on his desire to sign with the White Sox. Now, the White Sox not only have Moncada after trading for him in December, but they also have another potential cornerstone to build around.

“From the beginning we were very serious about it,” Paddy said. “Knowing we weren’t going to have 29 other clubs competing against us was a good thing for us because we knew our competition pool was a lot smaller. We went in it with everything we had and if we missed out on some guys that’s fine, that’s the risk you take.

“It’s a dream come true to be honest with you, having those guys with that kind of ability together. There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. But I saw Moncada about the same age I saw Robert and it’s like Christmas in May.”

The pursuit of Robert -- a player general manager Rick Hahn describes as a “dynamic, potential talent” -- began in December at the winter meetings at National Harbor, Md. Having learned that Robert would potentially be a late addition to the 2016-17 international class, Paddy asked for a meeting with Hahn, executive vice president Kenny Williams and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. Paddy and Hahn had previously held several similar state-of-the-international-picture meetings to determine when to make a splash on the market.

This was different.

“Marco approached us and said, ‘This is the guy,’ ” Hahn said.

It was still a “what if” proposition because Robert not only had to establish residency, but he also had to receive clearance from Major League Baseball to be part of the 2016-17 class, a critical factor. Under the old Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams could spend whatever they wanted on a player as long as they paid a luxury tax. But under the new CBA, teams are limited to a maximum of $5.25 million for bonuses.

While the White Sox felt Paddy’s familiarity with Robert would give them a chance if he wasn’t eligible until July 2 (the next class), they knew they’d compete against fewer teams for his services under the old rules. Hahn said back in March the White Sox intended to be a player either way. On Saturday, he said it was Paddy’s initial determination that spurred him into action.

“Marco personally was willing to suffer the penalties that it has on his world for the betterment of the organization,” Hahn said. “Marco’s evaluation and presence and willingness to sacrifice potential future signings for this reinforced the notion that this was the right move to make.”

Then everyone else got involved and the White Sox went overboard to recruit Robert.

If Saturday’s pregame presentation is any indication, the White Sox pulled out all the stops.

As Robert was introduced for his press conference, he sat in front of banners featuring current and former White Sox from Cuba, including Alexei Ramirez, Minnie Minoso, Jose Abreu and Moncada.

Once he was on the field to throw out the first pitch, the team played a short video that was filmed Friday night on the scoreboard with numerous White Sox fans welcoming Robert to Chicago. As Robert trotted to the mound to throw his pitch to Abreu, team employees stood atop the home dugout with a sign that read “bienvenidos” and holding Cuban flags.

But the post-signing efforts were nothing compared to the team’s full-court press of Robert last month.

[MORE: Luis Robert will start journey through White Sox organization in Dominican Summer League]

Hahn and Williams brought several showstoppers with them when they traveled to the Dominican Republic for a private workout with Robert last month. Included were a power point production and an iPad with a video presentation that the White Sox communications department put together in six days, Hahn said. Manager Rick Renteria narrated the short video in Spanish and it included personal messages for Robert from Abreu, Moncada and Michael Ynoa, who shares the same trainer (Edgar Mercedes) and worked out with Robert in the offseason.

“It was a beautiful video,” Robert said through an interpreter. “The part (that stood out) the most was when Ricky Renteria was talking straight to me, saying they need me here to win several championships.”

But more than the video, Robert said the desire displayed by the White Sox made his decision easy. Hahn said the White Sox felt confident heading into the final 24 hours that they were in the lead for Robert. Not only had they bid aggressively, Hahn thought the White Sox made a strong pitch. That feeling only increased last Saturday morning when Robert changed his Instagram avatar to a picture of him wearing a White Sox cap.

“The video helps a lot, but the thing that made me make a decision was who was the team that showed more interest,” Robert said. “That was something that made me feel good.”

Paddy had seen enough in five years to feel confident in pushing the White Sox to be a player for Robert.

He first scouted Robert at the under-15 Pan American Championships in 2012 in Chihuahua, Mexico. Paddy’s interest in the 6-foot-3, 175-pound center fielder only grew as Robert matured physically. Paddy suspected that once Hahn and Williams would be on board once they saw the passion with which Robert played.

Robert described himself on Saturday as player who likes to fight and “give all that I have for my team.” Paddy said it wasn’t a difficult call to push Hahn when he considered the player’s tools and makeup, as well as the last opportunity to spend big on an international talent.

“You put all those things together, it becomes easy,” Paddy said. “As I watched him over the years grow, get stronger and get better, it became evident to me that if we had an opportunity to sign this guy, it would be a good thing for the organization.

“The level of ability, the tools that I saw that he had, and the past and now present, it’s something you don’t see every day.”

Tyler Danish gets win in first big league start as White Sox beat Tigers in first game of doubleheader

Tyler Danish gets win in first big league start as White Sox beat Tigers in first game of doubleheader

Usually when a pitcher walks six batters in one game, it’s an outing to forget.

Not the case, though, for Tyler Danish, who will always want to remember what went down Saturday on the South Side.

After making three relief appearances last season, Danish made his first big league start in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader against the visiting Detroit Tigers. And despite issuing a sextet of free passes, he allowed a goose egg on the scoreboard, earning his first major league victory in the White Sox 3-0 win.

“That's great. I mean you dream as a kid to pitch in the big leagues,” Danish said. “To get my first win in my first career start was special. I'm glad my mom was here, I'm glad she got to enjoy that. It was a very special day, something I'll always remember.”

Danish got into some early trouble and looked like he might’ve been heading for the same type of sky-high ERA that he put up in his blink-and-you’ll-miss-it call up in 2016, when he turned in a 10.80 earned-run average in 1.2 innings. He walked three batters in the first inning Saturday, escaping thanks to a double play and a bases-loaded ground out to end the inning.

Twice more he had multiple runners on base, but he got out of those innings unscathed, too.

“He was throwing enough strikes that with the sinking action, he was able to get that ground ball in the first inning, the double play,” manager Rick Renteria said after the game. “Then most of the game he was still staying down in the zone. He was missing but just missing off on the fringes of the plate.

“I think he was very composed. The first couple of innings he was a little accelerated but he slowed down. In the end we wanted to make sure he was ready to go out and finish it.”

[WHITE SOX TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Despite the walks, Danish impressed. In addition to throwing five scoreless innings, he allowed just three hits and struck out seven Detroit hitters. Danish became the first White Sox pitcher to throw at least five scoreless frames and give up three or fewer hits in his first big league start in nearly a decade. The last guy to do it was Lance Broadway in September 2007.

“I definitely was nervous in the first inning. I was expecting it,” Danish said. “I came in and tried to pitch as well as I could with that. But I did settle in after the first couple innings and just started breathing a little more. I felt comfortable and the bullpen did a great job, the defense did a great job.

“I think a little bit of nerves. Obviously you don't want six (walks) every game, but I thought I made good pitches when I needed to. Now, go and enjoy this thing and tomorrow we'll be back again.”

Even though offense was hard to come by, the White Sox hitters managed three runs against an otherwise dominant Michael Fulmer. The reigning American League Rookie of the Year yielded just six hits through his first seven innings of work, the lone run in that span scoring on a bases-loaded double play in the fifth.

The White Sox got to Fulmer slightly more in the eighth with runs scoring on a Leury Garcia triple and a Jose Abreu broken-bat bloop single. Fulmer still finished with fewer than 100 pitches thrown in his eight innings, recording every out for Detroit.

The White Sox bullpen was perhaps the most impressive unit of the game. Chris Beck, Anthony Swarzak, Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson threw four scoreless innings and struck out nine hitters, including eight straight at one point.