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#pounditTuesday, December 6, 2022

Report: Coach K chose Jon Scheyer after Duke offered job to another candidate

Mike Krzyzewski in a suit

Longtime Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski may have had an even bigger role in choosing his successor than initially believed.

Coach K announced last year that the 2021-22 season would be his final one on the sideline. Jon Scheyer, who won a national championship at Duke as a player and has been on Krzyzewski’s staff since 2014, was quickly approved as Coach K’s replacement. But apparently Scheyer was Coach K’s choice, not the school’s.

In his new book “Coach K: The Rise and Reign of Mike Krzyzewski,” New York Post columnist Ian O’Connor reports that Duke initially offered the job to Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker. Sources told O’Connor that Krzyzewski wanted Scheyer, in part because the 75-year-old believed he would maintain more control over the program in retirement with Scheyer running the show than he would with Amaker. Duke went with Coach K’s choice, which reportedly left Amaker “heartbroken.”

According to O’Connor, Krzyzewski held a Zoom call with Amaker — another one of his former players and assistants — and delivered the bad news.

“Mike had to explain to Tommy why he couldn’t be the guy,” a Duke source told O’Connor. “He can be Don Corleone when he needs to be.”

Amaker was crushed, which is certainly understandable if Duke had already offered him the job. It’s unclear why Duke would have offered the position to someone without first having Coach K’s stamp of approval.

Amaker has been the head coach at Harvard since 2007. He held the same position at Michigan and Seton Hall prior to that. He has an overall record of 261-146 with five NCAA Tournament appearances with Harvard.

We knew that Amaker and one other candidate were strongly considered before Scheyer was named Duke’s head coach-in-waiting. It sounds like Amaker was a lot closer to landing the job than many realized.

Photo: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

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