“Growing up, Duke has always been the school of my dreams,” Whitehead told ESPN. “I loved Coach K, the style of play and the type of players he recruited. Once my recruiting process began, I started having mixed feelings seeing all the other opportunities out there. I was getting so much love from different schools it made my decision hard. It wasn’t until my official visit, the moment I stepped foot on campus, I knew Duke was home.”
The G League extended an offer to Whitehead on Saturday to join its Ignite team, reportedly worth $500,000.
“I recently had a Zoom call with Rod Strickland and Shareef Abdur-Rahim,” Whitehead said. “I was grateful for their offer to be a max player in the G League. I was truly blessed for the G League offer. They gave the offer the day before I was supposed to commit and I didn’t have much time to really think on it as much as I got to think about going to college.”
A 6-foot-6 small forward from New Jersey who attends Montverde Academy (Florida), Whitehead is ranked No. 6 overall in the ESPN 100 for the 2022 class. He’s the No. 3 small forward, behind elite prospect Emoni Bates and versatile wing Chris Livingston. Whitehead was outstanding for Team Durant on the Nike EYBL circuit this summer, averaging 16.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists — including a 26-point, 12-rebound, four-assist effort against fellow top-10 recruit Shaedon Sharpe and UPlay Canada.
Whitehead has developed into one of the most complete and well-rounded prospects in the class. He’s a high-level athlete who possesses a burst in the open floor and explosiveness when attacking the rim.
His game starts with defense. At Montverde, guarding the likes of Scottie Barnes, Caleb Houstan, Cade Cunningham and others has turned him into a committed defender. Whitehead excels as a switch defender who can keep the ball in front or chase a shooter off a screen to contest shots.
An active rebounder, he will take it off the glass and be a playmaker in the open floor. He owns the mindset, physical tools and talent to be a centerpiece of Duke’s roster next year and a projected first-round pick in the 2023 NBA draft.
Whitehead is Duke’s second top-20 commitment since Thursday, when No. 20-ranked senior Kyle Filipowski committed to the Blue Devils. Filipowski was Scheyer’s first recruit since being named Mike Krzyzewski’s replacement in early June. Scheyer is taking over as coach-in-waiting, with Krzyzewski set to coach the 2021-22 season before stepping down.
“Coach K told me he will still be there for me to help me. That meant a lot to me,” Whitehead said. “Everyone sees him as this serious coach. I mean, he is serious about the game. But he is a very funny guy.
“[Scheyer] played and coached with Coach K. I have been impressed with him and believe in him.”
With two seniors on this season’s roster, plus three underclassmen projected in ESPN’s latest 2022 mock draft, Duke is far from finished in the 2022 class. The Blue Devils offered summer breakout guard Jaden Schutt in July and have positioned themselves well in his recruitment, while five-star frontcourt prospects Dereck Lively and Mark Mitchell visited Durham in June. They’re also in pursuit of top-50 prospect JJ Starling.