Depends on who you ask, I guess. Definitely not by the mainstream media, but I think there is a compelling argument to make that Duke guard Jon Scheyer is the most underrated player in America.
I never used to be on the Scheyer train. After all, last year he didn’t really shoot it that well, and his assist and TO numbers were nearly identical. I still think that Scheyer is largely overrated as a shooter. He’s shooting just 34% from three this year, but everyone says that he is a great shooter. Probably because he’s white.
I’ve only seen Duke play a couple times this year, but Scheyer has played much better defensively than I remember him playing the past couple years. I don’t know if he’s guarding different types of players and he can stay in front of them easier, or he’s more easily able to utilize his 6’5″ frame this year, but Scheyer has taken a step up. There is a lot of criticism of Duke’s defense that they only play the passing lanes, looking for steals and breakaway layups, but Scheyer is really the whole package.
What really blows me away about Scheyer this year, though, are his assist and turnover numbers. Scheyer has a little over a 24% assist rate on the season. That’s certainly above average, but not elite elite. However, Scheyer handles the ball for Duke almost exclusively when he’s in there, and here are his TO numbers. Brace yourself: 5.2% 5.2%! That is fucking amazing. In fact, it is the 10th best mark in the entire country. Ironically, one of his teammates Andre Dawkins is ahead of him, but Dawkins plays just 50% of Duke’s minutes. Scheyer is at almost 90%.
On a purely taking care of the ball basis, there is no guard I’d rather have out there than Jon Scheyer. Sure he’s not terribly athletic, and he’s overrated as a shooter, but I am of the firm and probably old school belief that point guards should take care of the ball first and foremost, and not worry about scoring.
Duke has flamed out in the past couple NCAA tournaments, but NCAA Titles are won with guards, and for the most part they are won with experienced guards. Ty Lawson won one for UNC last year. Russ Robinson and Mario Chalmers overcame the more talented Derrick Rose the year before (Rock Chalk!). Taurean Green and Lee Humphrey went back to back for Florida. If Duke is going to get to the Final Four, Scheyer is going to take them there. And I think he will. Just don’t shoot it too much, Jon.