Duke wing Dariq Whitehead declared for the 2023 NBA Draft on Wednesday after developing into a knockdown 3-point shooter for the Blue Devils during his freshman season. Whitehead was absent for the beginning of the campaign because of a foot fracture and missed time during the heart of ACC play because of a lower-leg injury. But, when healthy, Whitehead offered glimpses of what made him a five-star prospect in the Class of 2022.
In particular, his 42.9% 3-point shooting mark paired with a 6-foot-7 frame suggested that Whitehead could be ready to make an impact on an NBA roster early in his professional career. In the Blue Devils' first nine ACC games before Whitehead's second injury-induced absence, he averaged 10.3 points on 47.7% shooting from beyond the arc.
While it didn't always show during his 27 games with Duke, Whitehead also has the tools to be a high-upside defender. NBA franchises may have questions about his health and decision-making with the basketball, but his combination of size, athleticism and shooting touch should override those concerns when it comes to evaluating his viability at the next level.
Though it was Kyle Filipowski who ended up stealing the spotlight from Duke's star-studded freshman class during the 2022-23 season, Whitehead did well to work back from two injuries and remain an impact player for a squad that won the ACC Tournament title in coach Jon Scheyer's first season on the job.
🙏🏾… pic.twitter.com/fFQHXxRl7p— Dariq whitehead (@dariq_whitehead) March 29, 2023
Dariq Whitehead's NBA Draft projection
Whitehead ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect in the Class of 2022, according to 247Sports, and with good reason. With excellent size, he has the makings of a prototypical NBA wing. Whitehead struggled to reach his full potential amid the injury struggles, but he demonstrated excellence in 3-point shooting, which is arguably the most important skill for modern NBA wings.
Whitehead ranks No. 11 in the CBS Sports 2023 NBA Draft Prospect Rankings. He went No. 12 in a recent mock draft from Kyle Boone and landed at No. 18 in a recent mock draft by Gary Parrish.
"His athleticism and potential is easy to see and why he'll likely go in the first round regardless of the fact that he's had an underwhelming freshman season," Parrish wrote.
Impact on Duke
Losing a player of Whitehead's potential was to be expected for Duke, which is welcoming the nation's No. 2-ranked class for the 2023-24 season. Whitehead is merely the latest in a long line of Blue Devils to depart after one season for the NBA Draft. While Scheyer may need to become less-reliant on freshmen as the game evolves, he will be remaking much of next season's rotation with young players again following the departure of Whitehead and others from the 2022-23 squad for the NBA.