Duke basketball scrimmage: Top NCAA freshmen miss practice


Duke head coach Jon Scheyer laughs with the players after dancing after being introduced during Duke’s Countdown to Craziness at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C., Friday, Oct. 21, 2022.

With changes up and down the roster and on the coaching staff, Duke basketball’s scrimmage showed who might help Jon Scheyer win this season, and who is keeping the Blue Devils waiting.

During the team’s annual Countdown to Craziness preseason event, highly regarded freshmen Dereck Lively and Dariq Whitehead were held out of the 16-minute scrimmage at Cameron Indoor Stadium due to injuries.

Lively, a 7-1 center who is the nation’s No. 1-rated player in the 2022 recruiting class, suffered a calf muscle strain in practice last week. Duke has not made any information yet available about a timetable for his return, but Lively described his absence as “precautionary.”

“I’m doing good,” Lively said. “Taking it day by day. Being precautionary, making sure I don’t do anything worse to my injury. I’ve just got a slight calf strain. I should be back in a couple of days.”

While neither Lively nor Whitehead participated in the scrimmage, both took part in elaborate player introductions that included walking up a ramp to an elevated podium and dancing for the crowd.

“We’re being really cautious with both of those guys,” Scheyer said following the scrimmage. “I think you can see by both of their dance moves, they’re doing just fine and they’re moving along.”

Whitehead, a 6-6 forward, is still recovering from a fractured right foot that occurred during a team workout on Aug. 29. He had surgery the following day. He wasn’t using the protective boot on his right foot Friday and Scheyer said he’s progressed to some on-court activities.

But, with the season opener set for Nov. 7 against Jacksonville, Whitehead has still not been cleared practice or play without limitations, putting his availability for that game in doubt.

“Dariq is still a few weeks away,” Scheyer said. “We don’t want to get ahead of setting exactly when he’s going to be back because he has some steps he has to make but he’s doing great. He’s back on the floor. He’s able to shoot he’s able to handle the ball and and I think that’s picked up his spirits being able to do something.”

Both Lively and Whitehead are projected to be lottery picks in next summer’s NBA Draft.

Duke’s first regular-season game since Scheyer replaced the retired Mike Krzyzewski as head coach may be Nov. 7, but the Blue Devils have two more important preseason events prior to that.

On Oct. 29, the Blue Devils will participate in a closed scrimmage at No. 3 Houston in a battle of two teams ranked among the AP’s top 10. Duke’s lone exhibition game this season is Nov. 2 at Cameron Indoor Stadium against Fayetteville State.

Lively declined to say if he’ll be available for the Houston scrimmage.

Here’s what else was notable from the scrimmage:

Roach the steady hand

Duke’s lone captain and the only starter back from last season’s Final Four team, junior coach Jeremy Roach stood out as expected.

The 6-2 junior guard, a preseason all-ACC pick, scored 12 points in the 16-minute scrimmage for the Blue team. He made four of nine shots while also collecting three assists. He did not turn the ball over.

After making only 32.2% of his 3-pointers last season, Roach hitting all three of his 3-pointers in the scrimmage was a good sign for the Blue Devils.

Proctor looks smooth

Just 18 years old, freshman guard Tyrese Proctor from Australia played on the White team, opposite Roach. Having them together in the backcourt, though, looks like a strength for Duke.

Proctor scored 10 points in the scrimmage, hitting three of seven shots. He was 1 of 3 on 3-pointers and had two assists with one turnover.

“Tyrese is really poised,” Scheyer said. “The thing with Tyrese, he didn’t necessarily make all the shots. But he really can create for others and he’s really good at pick and roll. I think the defense is at its mercy when he has the ball in his hands.”

Surprise! Reeves has big night

Duke brought in three freshmen who stand 7-feet or above in Lively, Kyle Filipowski and Christian Reeves.

While Lively and Filipowski are both rated as five-star recruits among the top 10 players in the class, Reeves wasn’t as highly regarded as a three-star player. He looks headed for a certain redshirt season, but Friday night he showed that decision won’t be easy.

Reeves scored 11 points on four-of-four shooting with five rebounds in 14 minutes of play. He also blocked three shots. He did all that while not being called for a foul.

“He had a couple of sequences, protecting the basket when they’re running the floor, you don’t know many 7-1 guys that can do that,” Scheyer said. “The growth that he’s made, since stepping on campus to now, has been incredible.”

As for that redshirt decision, Scheyer said, “Anything’s on the table for us right now.”

This story was originally published October 21, 2022 7:43 PM.

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Steve Wiseman has covered Duke athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer. He placed second in both beat writing and breaking news in the 2019 Associated Press Sports Editors national contest. Previously, Steve worked for The State (Columbia, SC), Herald-Journal (Spartanburg, S.C.), The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.), Charlotte Observer and Hickory (NC) Daily Record covering beats including the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, University of South Carolina athletics and the S.C. General Assembly. He’s won numerous state-level press association awards. Steve graduated from Illinois State University in 1989.

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