While everyone’s known that Jon Scheyer will be taking over the Duke Blue Devils for a while now, the transition is still a bit jarring. Coach K prowled Cameron’s sidelines for decades and won five national titles. It’s reasonable to wonder how things will go without him calling the shots.
If we take Chris Carrawell at his word, though, the program is in good hands.
On May 3, Scheyer and his coaching staff met with the media for the first time as a collective unit. While those sorts of press conferences always produce plenty of cliches, there was one specific anecdote from Carrawell that speaks volumes about his trust in the new boss.
Chris Carrawell ran around his front yard celebrating Scheyer’s new job
While it might seem a bit cheesy for Duke to brand their players as “The Brotherhood,” it does seem like there’s some truth to those words. At least within the coaching staff, we know that Chris Carrawell and Jon Scheyer have a pretty close bond.
When the new head coach learned that he would be replacing Mike Krzyzewski, he apparently tried to sneak into Carrawell’s house and surprise him with the news. That plan failed — the more senior man questioned Scheyer’s presence — but the two still shared an emotional moment.
“Scheyer couldn’t contain his joy as he told his friend and confidant the life-changing news,” David Thompson recounted in The Fayetteville Observer. “Carrawell also struggled to contain his excitement. No one understood better than him what it meant to Scheyer and what it would mean for his future.”
Thompson also shared a rather touching depiction of what happened that day.
“When he was like, ‘I’m going to be named,’ I ran around my front yard,” said Carrawell, who was promoted to associate head coach in June of 2021 and will be Scheyer’s right-hand man this season. “I just took off because I was so excited.”David Thompson writing for the Fayetteville Observer.
While that might seem comical — Carrawell didn’t have the greatest career from a numerical perspective, but he still experienced plenty of success — it does bode well for both Scheyer and Duke.
If Jon Scheyer meets Carrawell’s standards, that’s another trustworthy endorsement
From a cynical perspective, you could say that Carrawell’s quotes are designed to highlight a wholesome moment and show a united front within the new coaching staff. If we take the coach at his word, though, it’s quite the endorsement of Scheyer.
As noted above, Carrawell isn’t a household name, but he did have a solid career. He spent four years playing under Coach K and was drafted into the NBA. While he never suited up for the San Antonio Spurs, he did spend seven years playing abroad before transitioning into coaching. He’s served in various roles at Duke — he was promoted to associate head coach before the 2021-22 campaign — and worked as an assistant in the NBA G-League and at Marquette.
Even if that resume lacks any major successes, Carrawell has still been around the block and, thanks to his playing career, has probably dealt with more coaches than the average professional. If he’s confident in Scheyer’s skills, that’s not a bad endorsement.
It’s also worth considering just how connected Carrawell is to Duke. He came to the school in 1996 and spent four years under Krzyzewski. He returned to campus in 2008 and worked his way up the program’s coaching ladder. One of his forays away from Durham even took him to Marquette, where he joined Steve Wojciechowski’s staff. He came back to Cameron in 2018 and became the senior presence on Coach K’s staff. Now, he’s serving as Scheyer’s right-hand man.
That’s all a long-winded way of saying that the associate head coach is invested in the Duke brand and knows what it takes to keep the program moving forward. If we take the former guard at his word — again, if he was simply going on the PR offensive, he could have phrased things a bit more generically — then his positivity suggests that Scheyer is the right man for the job.
The same can be said for the likes of Jay Bilas and Coach K. While they have a vested interest in Duke, which could color their endorsements, there are also some high stakes at play. Specifically looking at Krzyzewski, he wouldn’t hand the program he’s built over 40 years to someone who would crash it into the ground.
At the end of the day, though, we’ll only know the true answer when the 2022-23 campaign tips off. Until then, Jon Scheyer will be a relatively unknown quantity.