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Columnist
Perfect ending to Scheyer's Duke career
By Lindsey Willhite | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 4/5/2010 11:19 PM | Updated: 4/5/2010 11:47 PM

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On May 17, 2005, Glenbrook North junior Jon Scheyer lured 100 friends, family members and media types to his school's library with the promise to divulge his college destination.

To Illinois fans' chagrin, Scheyer confirmed thinly disguised plans to follow through on a lifelong desire to attend Duke.

His fire was lit as a 4-year-old watching on TV as Christian Laettner stunned Kentucky with a shot for the ages.

"I always remember when I was little ... Christian Laettner hitting that shot," Scheyer said on that sunny Tuesday afternoon in Northbrook.

"I took my mom and my dad down into the basement. My dad was Grant Hill, I was Christian Laettner and my mom was the Kentucky team. We must have done that 100 times."

On Monday night in Indianapolis, Scheyer's final appearance in a Duke uniform nearly became known for a shot more spectacular than Laettner's.

With less than a second on the clock and his left foot planted on the half-court line, Butler's Gordon Hayward launched a runner that bounced off the glass and the rim without stunning Duke.

Had Hayward's shot hit the board maybe six inches to the left, Scheyer and his teammates fall to the Lucas Oil Stadium court in despair.

Instead Scheyer, standing 10 feet away from Hayward at launch, exhaled and rushed toward his teammates to celebrate his school's first NCAA title since 2001.

At last, Scheyer fulfilled his rationale for attending Duke.

"You can ask any of my friends," Scheyer said in 2005. "I love history and I love tradition. What better place to go to than Duke?"

When Scheyer asked that rhetorical question, you can bet he never considered the actual answer might be Butler.

The fifth-seeded Bulldogs nearly became the worst seed to win the national title since Kansas in 1988 - and Butler didn't have a Danny Manning to ride.

And Hayward, the only guy in a Butler uniform within a zip code of approximating an All-American and NBA No. 1 pick, spent his first 30 minutes being just another guy.

Scheyer, on the other hand, came through again and again down the stretch.

In his 144th game for Duke, Scheyer wasn't hitting his shot but made plays of every type.

With Butler holding steady at 40-40 with 15 minutes go, Scheyer tipped in a miss. He drew a charge to negate a driving bank by Hayward.

Twice he lobbed inbound baskets over an unprepared Butler defense for easy 3-footers in the lane.

With 7:58 to go - his jumper still failing to fall - Scheyer drove into the lane and hit an awkward bank while drawing Avery Jukes' fourth foul.

He added the free throw after the media timeout, then utilized Duke's next possession to take Butler point guard Ronald Nored off the dribble and draw a foul that became 2 more free throws.

Scheyer needed 18 points to leap over Jason Williams and Gene Banks to become Duke's No. 7 all-time scorer.

He settled for 15 points, 6 rebounds, a game-high 5 assists and a career-high-tying 2 blocks.

Oh, and a share of Duke's fourth NCAA championship.