Duke starts practice for 2022-23 college basketball season with star freshman sidelined

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

With the first regular-season game 42 days away, NCAA rules allowed Duke and every other team that opens the season Nov. 7 to begin practicing Monday and start devoting 20 hours per week to the sport.

The Blue Devils did so with the health status of a key player still in question.

Dariq Whitehead, a 6-6 forward and possible NBA draft lottery pick next June, is still recovering from the fractured foot that required surgery in late August.

Rated the No. 8 prospect for the 2023 NBA Draft by CBSsports.com, Whitehead was injured during Duke’s offseason workouts. No longer on crutches, he was still wearing a boot on his right foot last weekend. Whitehead was at practice Monday, not wearing the boot, but didn’t participate in any five-on-five play.

At the time of Whitehead’s surgery, the school said in a statement that Whitehead was “expected to play this fall.”

Jon Scheyer, beginning his first season as Duke’s head coach following Mike Krzyzewski’s retirement, will hold an 11 a.m. news conference as part of the team’s preseason media day Tuesday where Whitehead’s status is expected to be updated.

A five-star recruit from Newark, New Jersey, who played at Montverde Academy in Florida last season, Whitehead tweeted the day of his Aug. 30 surgery that he would “be back soon stronger and better than ever.”

Duke’s staff is counting on major contributions from Whitehead, who joins 7-1 center Dereck Lively II and 6-10 center Kyle Filipowski as top-10 players from the 2022 class on the Blue Devils’ roster this season. They, along with 6-8 forward Mark Mitchell, 6-5 guard Jaden Schutt, 6-4 guard Tyrese Proctor and 7-1 center Christian Reeves, gave Duke the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class.

Duke’s only public scrimmage, part of the Countdown to Craziness event, is Oct. 21. The Blue Devils lone exhibition game is Nov. 2 against Fayetteville State at Cameron Indoor Stadium.