Duke basketball: Overlooked freshman announces decision on future

Duke basketball freshmen Kyle Filipowski, Dariq Whitehead, Dereck Lively, and Mark Mitchell (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Duke basketball freshmen Kyle Filipowski, Dariq Whitehead, Dereck Lively, and Mark Mitchell (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

Duke basketball freshman wing Dairq Whitehead has made a decision on his future. 

It was the clear reality of the situation that Duke basketball freshman Dariq Whitehead would not be returning to Durham for a sophomore season.

That was evident upon his commitment to Duke as well as moments after the Blue Devils lost to Tennessee in the Round of 32 at the NCAA Tournament when he uttered that he was “ready for the next chapter.”

Well, that next chapter is the NBA as the Newark, New Jersey native announced on Wednesday morning that he has officially declared for this summer’s draft.

“I wanted to take a moment to express gratitude for your support this past year,” Whitehead said in his statement to Duke fans.

“Through the ups and down, I’m beyond grateful for the love and encouragement you all have shown me throughout my time in Durham.”

Dariq Whitehead played in 28 games this season for the Blue Devils, starting just seven, and averaged 8.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.0 assist per game while shooting 42.1-percent from the field and an impressive 42.9-percent from 3-point range.

Whitehead suffered a broken foot which required surgery during an offseason practice in August, which stunted his development and forced him to miss the first three games of the regular season.

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“He’s battled an incredible amount of adversity with the injuries that have come his way. I’m so proud of how he stuck with it and been a true team guy,” head coach Jon Scheyer said in a statement.

The 2022 Naismith High School Player of the Year also suffered a lower leg strain against Virginia Tech in late January which kept him out four games, although the injury initially appeared much more severe than diagnosed.

“I will always be a Blue Devil,” Whitehead said.

“I’m thrilled to take the next step in my career by declaring for the 2023 NBA Draft.”

Duke basketball product could be hidden gem in NBA Draft

Dariq Whitehead was widely considered as a future lottery selection among NBA Draft experts when he arrived in Durham — potentially even a Top-5 pick — but the inconsistencies in his game, credited to injuries, has seen him slide down draft boards over the last three months.

However, the shooting capabilities the freshman showcased should assure him a first round selection and could be an immediate impact player for a quality NBA franchise, if given the proper time to recover and develop.

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“Dariq is just scratching the surface on who he’s going to be,” Scheyer continued.

ESPN’s latest mock draft has the Charlotte Hornets selecting Dariq Whitehead at No. 29 overall.

Duke has already leaned that freshman point guard Tyrese Proctor will be returning for his sophomore season as the program still awaits the decisions from Kyle Filipowski, Mark Mitchell, Dereck Lively, and Jeremy Roach.

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