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(photo credit: AP)
It's a familiar story, really: An American Jewish basketball player with a deadly three-point shot is heavily courted by a college basketball powerhouse program.
You've heard it before. It was only a few years ago that the University of Maryland recruited Tamir Goodman, then labeled by major American media outlets as the "Jewish Jordan." However, Maryland subsequently rescinded its scholarship offer. Despite his talent level, Goodman was seen as overrated.
But, the subject of this story is more substance than hype. Make no mistake, though: He has plenty of hype following him around, too.
He was selected "Mr. Basketball" last year in Illinois, given to the top player in the state, and twice earned Gatorade's Illinois Player of the Year. He is the only player in the history of Illinois high school basketball to rank in the top 10 in career points, steals and assists.
But he is not over-hyped, not by any means.
Meet the new "Jewish Jordan" - Jon Scheyer, a 19-year-old kid from Northbrook, Illinois, and the starting shooting guard for the revered Duke University men's basketball team.
This year has largely been a disappointment for Duke (22-10, 8-8 ACC). But despite losing in the first round of the ACC Men's Basketball Tournament, the Blue Devils were ranked generously by the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship Selection Committee as the sixth seed in the West Region. Their first-round game against Virginia Commonwealth was later Thursday.
Even though Duke has had a sub-par season so far, one pleasant surprise has been the strong and consistent play from its freshman shooting guard. In Scheyer's first-ever collegiate game against Columbia, he knocked down four of six three-point attempts en route to 12 points and a Blue Devils victory.
For the year, Scheyer is averaging 12.3 points, two assists, and three rebounds, while leading the team in free throw and three-point shooting percentage.
And let's talk about efficiency. He set a career high in a victory over Miami, scoring 25 points on just eight field goal attempts.
That record didn't last long, however, as Scheyer subsequently racked up 26 points against archrival North Carolina.
If Scheyer were to make it to the NBA, he would not be the only Jewish guard in the league. The Los Angeles Lakers drafted Jordan Farmar in the 2006 NBA Draft, a talented point guard who led the UCLA Bruins to the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship final last season.
Nonetheless, Scheyer has already established himself as one of the premiere Jewish athletes of his generation. He has already been elected into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and he was recently named to the ACC All-Freshman team.
And although the 1.96-meter, 82-kilogram guard has not received as much media attention as Goodman, he was the subject of quite a few stories during his senior season in high school when he scored 21 points in just 78 seconds.
No matter how far Duke goes in the NCAA tournament this year, Scheyer will be looking forward to his sophomore season.
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