Was Jon Scheyer the best high school player in state history?
Dave Weber wasn’t afraid to say it in 2005.
“I think [Jon Scheyer] is the best player ever to play high school basketball in Illinois. I know that’s a big statement. I’m not saying he’s going to be the best college player or the best pro. His records are just mind-boggling. There is no one who is so complete.”
Weber, the Glenbrook North coach at the time, said that before Scheyer’s senior season.
It’s been 14 years since Scheyer graduated high school. Since then the state has experienced a phenomenal run of talent: Derrick Rose, Jabari Parker, Jalen Brunson, Jahlil Okafor and more.
And guess what? Weber’s statement still holds up.
Scheyer is the only player in Illinois high school basketball history that is in the all-time top 20 in total points, assists and steals. He’s fourth all-time in scoring, 20th all-time in assists and 10th in steals. He was on pace to finish in the top 10 in rebounding before his senior season but fell short. I couldn’t find a total for rebounds, but it is likely he was just outside the top 20.
The only other all-time top 20 scorer that features in any of the other categories is Mike Robinson of Peoria Richwoods, who is eighth in rebounds.
Statistically it is easy to make the case that Scheyer is the most complete player in IHSA basketball history. But there is another factor. Scheyer won. He really, really won. Scheyer led Glenbrook North to the Class AA state title in 2005, his junior year. There wasn’t another Division I player on the team.
Scheyer and Glenbrook North lost to Simeon and Derrick Rose in the 2006 state quarterfinals. That’s the most highly-anticipated game I’ve covered. Many forget this, but Scheyer also led Glenbrook North to third place in Class AA his freshman year.
Scheyer was a total media sensation. Jabari Parker was a bigger national star than Scheyer. Parker was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. But locally, it isn’t close. Scheyer and Glenbrook North were the biggest story in Chicago sports during the winter of 2005-06.
One televised Glenbrook North game had higher ratings than all five college basketball games that were on at the same time. That just doesn’t happen. More than 13,000 fans showed up to watch the 2006 supersectional game at Allstate Arena against Warren.
There was a huge national moment for Scheyer. He scored 21 points in 75 seconds at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament in 2005. He finished with 52 points against the host Panthers.
After the game, Scheyer passed out in the locker room — dehydrated and exhausted. He ended up in the hospital, but made it to the Spartans’ game the next day by halftime. He scored six points and became the all-time leading scorer in tournament history.
A week later, Scheyer was on WGN’s morning television show. The gag was, what else can Jon Scheyer do in 75 seconds? They had him tying shoelaces, making sandwiches, writing Coach K’s name on a blackboard. Then they whipped out a stopwatch and a basket and challenged him to do it again, score 21 points in 75 seconds.
He did it.
Scheyer was the Sun-Times Player of the Year and Mr. Basketball in 2006. The voting totals for Mr. Basketball are remarkable. He received 217 first place votes. The second-place finisher had 17.
For some reason the Scheyer vs. Rose game isn’t in the IHSA’s YouTube archive yet. It was actually a bust after all the hype. I’d like to rewatch it again though.
However, the 2005 state title game is in the archive and I watched it this week. It’s a terrific chance to watch how Scheyer, guard Sean Wallis and the rest of the Spartans brought a state title home to Northbrook.
Wallis’ impact on the team cannot be understated. The connection he shared with Scheyer was special, it’s the best I’ve ever seen in high school basketball. Overall I think the 2006 Glenbrook North team was more talented than the 2005 team that won the state title. But it just wasn’t quite the same without Wallis, who graduated in 2005.
“Sean and I had a special connection,’’ Scheyer said before the 2005-06 season. “I could close my eyes, and I would know where he was on the court.”
That was obvious. Opposing defenses didn’t just key on Scheyer. They attempted to overwhelm him. There was always at least a double-team and on some occasions teams actually had three players guard Scheyer. Wallis had an uncanny knack for finding the exact right spot to be in to allow Scheyer to release that pressure.
Watch it below and read the original game story from 2005.
The starting lineups:
Glenbrook North (32-2)
F Matt Gold (25), 6-5 Sr.
F Zach Kelly (44), 6-7 Jr.
C Jonathan Radke (50), 6-5 Jr.
G Sean Wallis (12), 6-2 Sr.
G Jon Scheyer (23), 6-6 Jr.
F Josh Tapp (23), 6-4 Sr.
F Phillip Fayne (24), 6-3 Sr.
C Manual Cass (41), 6-6 Jr.
G Ray Nelson (21), 6-1 Sr.
G Michael DeWalt (25), 6-0 Sr.
Glenbrook North brings it home: Scheyer scored 27 as Spartans roll to championship
March 20, 2005
BY MICHAEL O’BRIEN
PEORIA — Glenbrook North’s Jon Scheyer stood at the podium in the press room on Friday and boldly declared that he came to Peoria to win the state championship.
Scheyer delivered on Saturday night, scoring 27 points to lead the Spartans to a 63-51 win over Carbondale at Carver Arena.
After the game he dedicated the win to his coach, Dave Weber, whose mother Dawn passed away on March 11.
“We were all kind of stunned by that,” Scheyer said. We went out and got the best present we could for coach. This was all for him.”
Scheyer got his coach the title with one of the most dominant performances in state tournament history. Shaun Livingston, who led Peoria Central to the state title in 2003 and 2004, went directly from Carver Arena to the NBA, but he never dominated the state as Scheyer did.
Scheyer scored 35 points in the quarterfinals against Brother Rice and had 24 against Rockford Jefferson in the semifinals. He scored 48 in the supersectional against Waukegan, putting him just nine points shy of King star Marcus Liberty’s record of 143 points in the 1987 state tournament.
I was flipping through the program and saw that record before we played on Friday,” Scheyer said. I couldn’t imagine anyone scoring that much. Just to be mentioned with a legend like Marcus Liberty is great.”
“I’d just like to thank everyone who chanted ‘Overrated’ at him,” Weber said. “He was so fired up this season.”
The Spartans (32-2) led 52-35 after three free throws from Scheyer with 1:26 to play in the third quarter. A flurry of Glenbrook North turnovers at the start of the fourth quarter allowed Carbondale (31-3) a chance to get back in the game. The Terriers took advantage, opening the fourth with a 9-0 run to get within 52-45 on Josh Tabb’s driving layup with 4:22 to play.
Glenbrook North guard Sean Wallis’ jumper with 3:02 to play turned the tide and put the Spartans ahead 54-45.
“Sean and I have been talking about and dreaming about a state title our whole lives,” Scheyer said.” That jumper he made was the biggest shot of our careers.”
The strongest feature of Glenbrook North’s team then came into play — free throws. The Spartans iced the title at the line, shooting 9-for-12 in the final two minutes.
“I don’t think anyone thought a school like Glenbrook North could win a basketball state title in Illinois,” Weber said. I’m so proud of these kids. I think we made history.”
There is so much one-on-one in basketball these days. We execute a half-court offense and that makes us very rare in this area of high school basketball. I never thought we’d come here and win these games by the margin we did.”
Scheyer shot 9-for-17 and finished with three assists, three rebounds and two blocks. Wallis scored 15 points and Zach Kelly added eight points.
Ray Nelson led the Terriers with 11 points.
Glenbrook North opened the game with a 14-4 run. Wallis, Gold and Scheyer all made threes in the first three minutes of the second quarter to increase the lead to 28-13. Glenbrook North held Carbondale without a field goal for the final four minutes of the second quarter and led 34-28 at the half. Glenbrook North never trailed at halftime this season.
“[Scheyer] is better than I anticipated,” said Carbondale coach Jim Miller. “He does so many things so well and he makes everyone around him better. There is a reason why he’s rated as high as he is.”
Downers South defeated Rockford Jefferson 57-44 to capture third place. Mustangs guard Bryan Mullins, who battled illness all weekend, had 19 points and eight assists for the Mustangs (30-4).