Other than possibly Dereck Lively, Dariq Whitehead is the Duke freshman most people are excited to see.
He’s probably the most athletic player on this year’s roster and, happily, he is a committed defender.
We’re sure an NBA scout will find flaws in his game and certainly analytics will reveal gaps. This is not an exact comparison and we’re not comparing him to Grant Hill, but when Hill was a freshman, one analyst said all he needs to work on is a three point shot. And that was about right.
Whitehead also comes to college as a highly polished freshman, as the Chronicle’s latest profile underscores:
“On the offensive end, Whitehead has an explosive first step that allows him to drive past a defender and finish smoothly at the rim. He is a poised ball handler, yet doesn’t need to have the ball every possession...Whitehead also has great court vision and can easily laser a pass from 3-point range to a cutting big man. What truly sets Whitehead apart from other prospects, however, is his confident midrange jumper...Whitehead has a knack for knocking down tough pull-up jumpers...Whitehead also excels on the defensive side of the ball...His confidence on defense is noticeable as well, and he doesn’t mind taking on taller and larger players.“
We may have to wait a bit to see him as he’s still recovering from a foot issue, but he’s going to be a lot of fun to watch.