Even in his worst nightmares, Jon Scheyer never dreamed that the start to his
Maccabi Tel Aviv career would look quite like this.
It’s one thing to
fail to impress, but it’s completely different when you are not even deemed to
be good enough to be on court.
Scheyer was expected to be an important
piece in the Maccabi puzzle, but rather than becoming a significant contributor
like many predicted he would, the 24-year-old guard has so far been a complete
Maccabi has already played 17 games in all competitions this
season – seven in the Adriatic League and five each in the Euroleague and
Scheyer, who took Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return to
join Maccabi in the summer, has only taken part in 10 of those games and has yet
to make his Euroleague debut.
In four BSL games, Scheyer has averaged
11.5 minutes and 4.3 points, which is quite impressive when you consider that in
six Adriatic outings he has posted 8.5 minutes and 0.7 points.
not even the worst of it.
Matters have actually gone from bad to worse
for Scheyer since Maccabi decided to bring in Keith Langford to bolster its
back-court options, with Jon watching four of Maccabi’s last five games in
He has found himself the odd man out time and again in
recent weeks, with coach David Blatt not even giving him a chance to prove his
Blatt had coveted Scheyer since he graduated from Duke University
in 2010 after leading it to the NCAA Championship in his senior year, averaging
18.2 points, 4.9 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game.
Despite being named
as a second- team All-American by ESPN, Scheyer was not selected in the 2010 NBA
draft. But there seemed to be little doubt that he had what it took to be a key
player for Maccabi.
However, with every passing day, more and more
questions arise regarding his chances of succeeding in Tel Aviv.
credit, he is refusing to allow his current situation to break his
“I’m just working hard and staying ready,” he told me on
“The expectations are put there by other people. I want to have
an opportunity to contribute and help the team. That is all I control right
Despite believing that he is playing better than ever, Scheyer has
no complaints regarding the way he is being treated by Blatt.
disappointed,” he said. “We have a lot of great players. Of course there
is also a learning transition coming over to Europe, and I think I have learned
a lot since I’ve been here. I think I have become a better player.
a different game in college. You grow up your entire life playing one way
and it is just small things you need to learn. It is tough to get used to and it
comes with time, but I feel a lot better.”
After going undrafted in 2010,
Scheyer went on to play for the Miami Heat during the Summer League, but he had
to undergo surgery to repair damage to his right retina after taking an elbow to
his eye during his second game.
He went on to try his luck at the Los
Angeles Clippers’ training camp in September, but with his eye not yet fully
healed, he was waived, and he eventually joined the Rio Grande Valley Vipers,
averaging 11.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 16 games for the Houston
Rockets’ D-League team.
Scheyer has had to wear goggles to protect his
eye since the injury, but he said that the serious setback has played no factor
in his struggles at Maccabi.
He isn’t even considering leaving Tel Aviv
on loan for a team that would give him more playing time and remains optimistic
that it won’t be much longer before he finally gets his chance.
career people have had doubts and questioned me,” he said. “I don’t worry about
that stuff. I don’t listen to that. I just stay on the path that is best for me.
I feel confident that in the long run things will work out.
“I feel I’m
definitely a better player. I think with experience you get better. I
feel great with where my game is at. I’m waiting for my chance. I need to stay
ready. I can’t comment on playing time, but I’m happy I’m here and I think I
have come a long way since I’ve arrived.”
Scheyer is doing his best to
remain upbeat, but at the moment it is hard to see how he will break into
As things currently stand, Maccabi doesn’t even dress him
in most games.
Scheyer “loves” Tel Aviv and says his time in Israel has
been a “great experience,” but his patience is going to be tested to the limit
Blatt may suddenly decide that Scheyer should be a starter,
but if the early signs are anything to go by, it is going to be a long and
frustrating season for a player that was on the top of the world just last
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