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The Significance Of Dariq Whitehead’s Commitment

It’s not just the talent. It’s the faith in Jon Scheyer.

High School Basketball: Geico Nationals
Apr 5, 2019; Middle Village, NY, USA; Montverde Academy Eagles guards Ryan Nembhard (4) and Dariq Whitehead (0) react in the third quarter against the IMG Academy Ascenders at Christ the King High School. 
Catalina Fragoso-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s a decent look at new Duke commit Dariq Whitehead and what he brings to Duke from Tom Fornelli of

Fornelli spoke to colleague Jerry Myer who compared Whitehead to former Texas star Jarrett Culver: “Solid size for a wing. Has quick twitch athleticism. Fast with the basketball. Loves to attack the rim, but has a smooth jumper. Three-level scorer. Has a great pull up jumper going left. Solid ball handler and passer who plays with awareness and instincts. Rebounds his position well. Has tremendous potential as a versatile defender.“

That’s all good and he might have added that Whitehead is physically more mature than most of his contemporaries, including Kyle Filipowski, who also committed to Duke last week.

But none of that really gets to what’s significant about his commitment.

We see two things that are really key.

First, Jon Scheyer has shown that he can keep the talent coming to Durham. And second, that Whitehead said this: “[Scheyer] played and coached with Coach K. I have been impressed with him and believe in him.”

That’s so nice to hear. Duke fans have seen Scheyer play, coach and recruit since 2006. We have a really good idea of who he is.

But he still has to sell himself to the larger basketball world. He’s proven as an assistant, and now as a rising head coach, that he is a superb recruiter. Discerning fans will remember that he prepped Tre Jones for Duke’s miraculous win at Chapel Hill two seasons ago, when he told Jones to think about where the ball would come off the rim if he had to miss a free throw.

That also shows a keen strategic mind and an ability to plan ahead for multiple possibilities. Frankly, and Duke fans may not like to hear this, it sounds like something Dean Smith would have done.

We’ll know more about Scheyer as a head coach when he takes over but we think he’s already shown immense potential. Our biggest question about him, and we expect Coach K already knows the answer to this, was brought up indirectly last season by Pitt coach and former Duke assistant Jeff Capel.

He wasn’t thinking of Scheyer when he said this, but when Duke was struggling through the Covid season, a reporter asked. him about the Blue Devil’s tough season.

His answer, essentially, was that the key characteristic of Duke’s program was that “those guys fight.”

We don’t remember the exact story but Jay Bilas talked once about how he was getting constantly beaten on defense and Coach K stopped practice and said something like “I don’t care what you have to do but he’s not scoring on you again.”

So Bilas took the point and essentially gave a very hard foul and practice got back on track. We don’t remember the exact story but the point is clear: Krzyzewski expected toughness and a willingness to fight and got it.

We think Scheyer has shown just about everything else he needs to be a superb coach. We won’t know the answer to that last question though until his team faces some adversity and has to fight to get out of it.