Duke basketball: Newcomers with promising futures after opening night

Duke basketball team huddle (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Duke basketball team huddle (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /
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A new era of Duke basketball has officially begun.

When Jon Scheyer was named as the next Duke basketball head coach back in June 2021, it began a long tenure as coach-in-waiting that included a Final Four run in Coach K’s final season.

Now, a full seventeen months later, Scheyer has officially coached – and won – his first game as head coach of the Blue Devils.

Fittingly, the new tenure under Scheyer is beginning with plenty of new faces.

Duke basketball returns only 11-percent of its scoring from last season – nearly all of which can be attributed to the lone returning starter, Jeremy Roach.

Despite all the new faces, the Blue Devils wasted no time working out their chemistry on the court. They defeated Jacksonville on Monday night, 71-47.

Duke racked up 19 assists and out rebounded the Dolphins, 44-25, including a 16-to-7 edge on the offensive glass. The Blue Devils also played great team defense, holding Jacksonville to 34-percent shooting from the field and 13- percent from beyond the arc.

Most impressive, however, is that the Blue Devils were able to shine without their top two newcomers in Dariq Whitehead and Dereck Lively II.

Whitehead has been out since the summer with a fractured foot, and Lively has been out in recent weeks with a strained calf.

Lively and Whitehead ranked as the No. 1 and No. 2 freshman in the 2022 class, according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings.

Despite the injuries, Duke basketball was able to secure key contributions from their other freshman as well as multiple graduate transfers secured through the portal.

Let’s take a look at how some key newcomers contributed in their first game as members of The Brotherhood.

Duke basketball has another budding freshman star

Duke basketball
Duke basketball forward Mark Mitchell (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

Mark Mitchell

  • 18 points, two assists, one rebound

Nobody had a better debut for the Blue Devils on Monday night than Mark Mitchell.

The freshman got the game started off with a massive alley-oop slam that got the Cameron Crazies rocking early into the game.

His contributions didn’t stop there, as Mitchell finished the game as the leading scorer, pouring in 18 points in his nearly thirty minutes of game action.

While his scoring was a massive standout, there was plenty to be exited about from Mitchell’s debut as a Blue Devil.

The 6-foot-8 forward played hard and played efficiently. He made his presence known all over the floor, pouring in half of his shot attempts, registering both a steal and a block, and playing turnover free basketball.

Mitchell even knocked down two jumpers from beyond the arc, which is said to be the most limited aspect of his game.

The freshman was ranked No. 22 in the 2022 class, according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings. After Monday night’s debut, many Duke basketball fans can agree that perhaps that ranking was a bit low.