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Tennessee’s Rick Barnes and Duke’s Jon Scheyer Share Fascinating Decade Long Connection

Duke Tennessee Jon Scheyer Rick Barnes
Duke men’s basketball head coach Jon Scheyer.
Photo by Nat LeDonne / Duke Athletics.

Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes and Duke head coach Jon Scheyer share an interesting decade-plus connection that was revealed on Friday afternoon.

Scheyer, a 6-foot-5 guard from Northbrook, IL, played for Duke from 2006 to 2010. As Scheyer explained on Friday, though, Barnes was recruiting him before he committed to Duke. Barnes was the head coach at Texas during this stretch of time.

“Rick Barnes has been somebody that I’ve known actually since the recruiting process,” Scheyer said. “I took a visit there when I was — my sister went to Texas, so I took one visit there, and he’s a great coach. I have a lot of respect for him. His teams are known for being incredibly tough and together.”

But it goes even further, though. If he had a little knowledge of what was going to happen in the future, Scheyer might have wanted to link up with one of the great basketball players of this generation.

“At the time if I knew Kevin Durant was going there, I think I would have looked a little bit harder at it, but I didn’t know that at the time,” Scheyer said with a laugh. “The campus is beautiful, and obviously it’s a great place down there.”

When he was told about Scheyer’s comments about half an hour after the Duke head coach’s press conference, Rick Barnes grew a big smile on his face, but quickly addressed the Durant comment first.

“Obviously I didn’t know I was going to get [Durant] at the time [of talking to Scheyer],” Barnes said with a grin.

More from RTI: Tennessee NCAA Tournament Preview – A Quick Look At Duke

Scheyer, a five/four-star guard in the class of 2006, was a top 50 player in the country at the time. Barnes’ Longhorns seemed to be in the running for his services, too.

“Yeah, Jon is a good player, good person,” Barnes said on Friday. “I think Jon could have gone anywhere he wanted to go, and he obviously picked Duke, and it’s worked out well for him.”

During the 2009 March Madness tournament, Scheyer’s Blue Devils knocked out Barnes’ Longhorns in the second round of the tournament by a score of 74-69. Scheyer scored 13 points in 34 minutes of action on the court.

“Terrific player,” Barnes said. “We played against him — I don’t remember. I just know we played against him in the NCAA Tournament somewhere and they beat us, they knocked us out.”

In early June 2021, Jon Scheyer was announced as the successor to legendary Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski after his retirement, which became official at the end of the 2021-2022 season. Scheyer’s tenure officially began in April 2022, making this his first season at the helm of the Blue Devils program.

Four-seed Tennessee and head coach Rick Barnes will take on five-seed Duke and head coach Jon Scheyer in the second round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament at 2:40 p.m. ET on Saturday afternoon in Orlando, FL.

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