After a two-year break due to COVID-19 concerns, high school basketball’s most prestigious showcase returned to action last night. The 2022 McDonald’s All-American Game turned out to be a lopsided victory in favor of the East roster, but the showing gave one program a lot to be excited about.
Not only has Duke been successful with its Final Four berth, but the Blue Devils have also been the biggest winner on the recruiting scene this basketball season. Currently having the No. 1 class in 2022 and 2023, their senior class backed that billing. While Mark Mitchell led the West team with 19 points, it was the duo of Dariq Whitehead and Dereck Lively that helped secure the East squad secure a victory. Both are the talked about as the No. 1 player in the country and while they gave great showings for Blue Devil fans to be excited about, their outings can carry over to playing in Cameron Indoor.
First focusing on 247Sports’ No. 1 ranked prospect, Lively looked like all the parts of a modern NBA-five man last night. He can run the floor plus control the paint with his long arms and bounce at 7-foot-2, immediate translatable assets. Fans will see him become all the more impactful when he is the reason for tip-out offensive rebounds that give Duke extra possessions in tight-knit situations. He will be an easy target for guards to find and his clear potential to have a Tyson Chandler-type of effect on the game safely keeps him in the No. 1 spot of the class for good reason.
The game’s MVP, Whitehead, has also been in the conversation for the top spot leading up to the winter. His outing gave a prime reason why his case should be reconsidered. No matter the setting, Whitehead has managed to find ways to ooze productivity. If his jumper is not falling (which was not a worry yesterday evening), his mindset does not waver as he flourishes in transition. His feel for the game last night also displayed a level of unselfishness that projects for him to be a versatile piece in Jon Scheyer’s system. While Lively gives off the Chandler vibes, Whitehead projects in the DeMar DeRozan fashion. As he takes steps to match his skillset with his elite athleticism, his game could certainly take off in the same direction. What is noteworthy and works Whitehead’s favor is how he was the youngest prospect in the game still at 17 years of age.
While the outings were impressive, it is the potential that Duke fans must keep an eye on. If both take significant steps ahead of next season, Blue Devil fans have a great chance of experiencing the same flavor of success they have this March.
The Daily Dish is a daily college basketball column by a rotating cast of 247Sports writers on the biggest stories of the day in the sport and will run through the NCAA Tournament championship in April.