Coach: Northbrook's 'Liddy' a big influence on Duke's Jon Scheyer
By now, most sports fans are well-aware of the rapid ascension of Northbrook's very own Jon Scheyer.
He made national headlines recently by being named the future head coach for powerhouse Duke University.
The Scheyer story is almost storybook. From grade school basketball legend to high school star and state champion for Glenbrook North, to captain and second team All-American for a national championship Duke team.
Then an assistant coach, associate head coach, now head coach for the 2022-23 season for the Blue Devils when the legendary Coach K retires.
Storybook stuff, indeed, but if a book ever is written, you might want to dedicate one of those chapters to another Northbrook resident, perhaps not nearly as well-known, but clearly key to Scheyer's hoops success.
Meet Scott Lidskin, longtime basketball coach and early mentor, trainer, coach and friend of Jon Scheyer. The relationship has long and deep roots.
"It really started when I was first coaching his sister Jennifer," recalls Scott. "Jon was about 7 years old at the time and hanging around the court, so I started to work with him a little bit. I ended up coaching him in the Glenbrook Small Fry program, where he was the youngest kid out there, but also the tallest, and you could see the talent even then."
Scheyer, himself, recalls the early days with Lidskin.
"He was a big influence for me and my basketball career, always working with me and believing in my abilities. One thing he did that I am tremendously grateful for is, even though I was the tallest for my age, he made me work on my passing, dribbling and perimeter skills," Scheyer said.
"Other coaches just wanted me to play near the basket like the typical big kid. But Liddy didn't buy into that. The fact I developed those guard skills at an early age really benefitted me as I moved along in my career. I am always thankful to him for that."
Lidskin laughs when he recalls, "Yeah, I remember. I looked at his parents, who were not real tall, and thought Jon wasn't going to grow that much more, so better work on his guard play. Little did I know he would sprout up to 6'6. So much for that theory."
Scheyer's mom Laury remembers those early days and how the connection between the two grew and developed.
"Scott was very positive with Jon and he made the work and the drills fun. Scott was not only knowledgeable about basketball, but also had a great sense of humor, and I think Jon was always drawn to that."
Lidskin noticed Scheyer's special potential even back in those early days.
"He was a smart player as a young kid. He loved to practice, and he had tremendous competitive drive," Lidskin said. "That is a pretty good combination, and as he aged he just kept getting better and better."
The connection between the two only grew stronger as the years went on.
Lidskin ended up coaching Scheyer's AAU teams, as well as his feeder teams. And when it came time for Jon to enter high school, who was on the bench for the Spartan varsity team all four years as assistant? The man known as "Liddy."
"He was a big help during my Glenbrook North years," says Scheyer. "Through all the ups and downs, it was nice knowing Liddy was there and always supportive."
The relationship did not end after high school. Not by a longshot.
When Scheyer went to Duke, Lidskin continued to be one of his best supporters. He was there to watch his very first game, and four years later he was there at his very last game when they won the national championship, with his prized pupil leading the way.
In between, he attended many Duke games.
"I went and took my kids to watch, too. They became big fans. Sometimes we got to sit in the first or second row at Cameron Indoor Arena, which was pretty cool. My kids really got attached to Jon, and the Duke team in general.
Mom Laury spoke to that relationship. "Jon got to know Scott's boys very well during those years. They developed a great relationship, and Scott's family has become like family to us."
Although the relationship with Scheyer certainly was a highlight for the longtime Northbrook resident Lidskin, it was far from his only accomplishment when it comes to basketball coaching.
He still trains and works with many of the young players in the area and has coached for travel programs over the years such as Rising Stars, Full Package, and even started his own program called Illinois Old School.
Lidskin and wife Becky have three sons: Jonathan, who graduated a couple years ago; Blake, who is a senior and has been on the Spartans varsity basketball team since his sophomore year; and up-and-coming sophomore player Kyle.
So, the basketball journey is far from over for "Liddy."
Interestingly, this now avowed basketball junkie was a baseball player when he attended Highland Park High School back in the day, and even played a little JUCO baseball before coaching the sport three years at St. Ignatius High School.
"But, honestly, I found baseball kind of boring," he says, "so I turned to basketball and started going to clinics and high school and college practices and learned as much as I could. I fell in love with the game and have been coaching, really, ever since."
I guess you could say there are an awful lot of quality basketball players in our area who have really benefitted from the fact Liddy found baseball boring.
One of them would be Duke's next head coach.
• Jon Cohn of Glenview is a coach, retired PE teacher, sports official and prep sports fan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.