Fact or Fiction: Duke did the smart thing by going with John Scheyer
The college basketball offseason has not been short on major news. New professional leagues are popping and poaching recruits while giants of the coaching world are retiring. Today, Rivals national recruiting analysts Rob Cassidy and Dan McDonald tackle three of the sport’s most interesting topics and debate whether each statement is true or false.
2023 Rankings: Top 30
1. Mikey Williams will eventually land in the Overtime Elite League.
Cassidy: FACT. The fit here seems great for everyone involved. Overtime needs a star with a built in following, and Mikey Williams, with his 3.1 million Instagram followers and ready-built brand, checks that box. Meanwhile, Williams has never really considered the college route and has some sort of relationship in place with hyper-famous rapper and Overtime Elite League investor Drake already in place.
I could be wrong here, but this is starting to seem like more of a “when” than an “if”. The Overtime League is picking up momentum and signing some elite-level prospects in all classes In some ways, it seems like things are building to the announcement of Williams’ contract, which will provide the upstart venture with a centerpiece worth advertising to the masses.
McDonald: FACT. With the way his high school career has gone so far, I don’t think there is any doubt he will become a pro in some form or fashion in the very near future. His ability to market himself with all his Twitter and Instagram followers would make a lot of high-level companies jealous and it will give him a lot of opportunities to make money outside of basketball the second he turns pro.
Will it be Overtime Elite for him or could the G League decide to come after him like they did with Scoot Henderson? I’d take an educated guess here and say it probably will be Overtime for him. They’ll need to make a big splash and there is no better high school prospect to do that with than Mikey Williams. I don’t see the G League giving him a two-year, million-dollar contract like they gave Scoot Henderson, but I could see Overtime doing it.
2. Duke did the smart thing by letting Mike Krzyzewski choose his successor.
Cassidy: FICTION. John Scheyer may be wildly successful in the job, so this is no knock on him or his ability. That said, coaching and evaluating coaches are two very different skill sets. Few former coaches shine as athletic directors for a reason, after all. Also, legendary coaches are often too close to the situation to see the forest through the trees.
There’s no harm in taking an outgoing coach’s input on a hire, but to scrap a national search and decline to even interview other potential hires seems a bit reckless when you’re in charge of a program as proud as Duke. The hire is certainly a great way to preserve recruiting ties and ensure continuity, but kicking the ties on sitting head coaches would have been wise even if the athletic department decided to go with Scheyer in the end.
McDonald: FICTION. I’m never really a huge fan of letting a highly successful coach pick his successor in college athletics. It feels a lot like a popular college football coach retiring and being given the athletic director job to be the figurehead that raises money. College basketball coaches are hired to run the basketball program and athletic directors are hired to run athletic departments. When one starts to cross into the other’s path, I personally think you are asking for problems.
In saying that, I’ve heard nothing but good things about John Scheyer as both a coach and as a recruiter. He’s had a front row seat to how Coach K has run that program for years as an assistant and from his playing days. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he has great success because he seems like a sharp guy and he will have one of the best jobs in the country. His biggest challenge will be following in the shadow of arguably the greatest college basketball coach of all time. Every decision he makes will be under a microscope, which is never easy for a young, first time head coach.
3. Top 2023 prospect DJ Wagner will play college basketball.
Cassidy: FACT. DaJuan Wagner certainly has the skill to make the jump to the pros, but I get the feeling college is a serious option here unless the one-and-done rule vanishes before he’s ready to sign a letter of intent.
I understand this is picking the upset and, admittedly, this answer is the product of my contrarian nature. At the same time, Wagner’s family’s relationship with John Calipari could come into play here, especially if the G League route fails to produce an NBA star between now and signing day 2023. I’m willing to be wrong in the name of going out on a limb here.
McDonald: FICTION. Unfortunately for those of us that love college basketball, I just don’t see it happening. He’s the No. 1 prospect in the 2023 class for a reason and looks to be on track for an NBA career the minute he’s of age. Unless he’s just dead set on getting a start on his education, it doesn’t really make much sense for him to be going to class when he could be paid to work on his craft full time in preparation to make millions of dollars at 19 years old.
He could be one of the early targets for the G League this time next year following in the footsteps of Scoot Henderson. As I said, it’s only a matter of when he’ll make it to the League. I’d be shocked if the G League doesn’t see him as a worthy investment of a contract similar to or even bigger than what Henderson signed last month.