Former Duke star and Illinois native Jon Scheyer said Friday Duke assistant coach Chris Collins would make an "amazing" head coach if he gets the chance.
Out of respect for Collins, Scheyer didn't want to specifically talk about Collins as a candidate for Northwestern's coaching opening. Collins is expected to interview with Northwestern next week, a source recently told ESPNChicago.com.
Scheyer, a former Illinois Mr. Basketball, has known Collins for most of his life. Scheyer and Collins both grew up in Northbrook, Ill. Scheyer attended Collins' high school games at Glenbrook North as a kid, was recruited by Collins and was later coached by him at Duke.
"I always thought since I was a player at Duke that he was going to make an amazing coach," Scheyer said by phone from Spain, where he now plays professionally. "I always thought growing up people are meant to do one thing. He has a love for basketball. Not many people can say the two people who have mentored them are Doug Collins (Chris' father) and Mike Krzyzewski, two of the greatest coaches."
Scheyer said he was especially impressed by Collins' basketball knowledge while at Duke. During scrimmages in practice, Scheyer was surprised how Collins was able to design plays to get open shots for or against him.
"He has these plays off the top of his head," Scheyer said. "He would draw up plays where I'd get wide-open shots. Offensively, he's great at drawing up plays. There was one time I thought I was on to him. I'll never forget it. I was guarding Seth Curry, and I thought I knew the play, and he got me and hit a 3 to tie it. I'll never forget it because it (ticked) me off. He was just smiling at me."
Scheyer often got to see Collins get some practice as a head coach because Krzyzewski gave Collins and assistant Steve Wojciechowski head-coaching type of responsibilities.
"Don't get me wrong, it was Coach K's show, but I think he trusted Wojo and Chris so much that they were doing the scouting, going through the game plans first," Scheyer said. "Practices often times, I'd have on a day-to-day basis more interaction with Chris running the guards and having the scout. I think the staff being together for so much time, they know what Coach K wanted, and Coach K trusted them."
Scheyer also believes Collins' personality was conducive to recruiting. It was a factor in Scheyer choosing Duke.
"For me, personally, he's outgoing," Scheyer said. "From the beginning, I was very comfortable with him and talking to him. I think him and Coach K were able to paint a picture on how they viewed my career going at Duke and even beyond Duke. I think that's something they did that set them apart from other schools."
Scheyer also credits Collins for helping alter his final year and a half at Duke, which ended with a national championship in 2010. After the Blue Devils lost to Clemson by 27 points during Scheyer's junior season, he and Collins sat down to talk.
"It was tough love," Scheyer said. "He said in the next year and a half you can make something or not. It impacted the rest of my career. It really changed. Those tough moments as a player and a coach I think about a lot.
"After the national championship, I was so excited to celebrate it with him. I felt we were on a journey from him recruiting me to my freshman year to then. We had done a lot together and to get to where we got was pretty cool."