Duke basketball has faced a similar situation countless times in recent years, with five-star newcomers missing weeks or, in the case of electric wing Dariq Whitehead this season, months of practice and workouts in the fall.
Fortunately, Jon Scheyer, now in his first year as head coach of the No. 7 Duke Blue Devils (3-1, 0-0 ACC), was on the Duke bench as an assistant under Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski for nine years before assuming the reins. So the 35-year-old should have a solid template for fusing a once-injured heralded rookie into the rotation.
And in terms of minutes for Whitehead in his Duke basketball debut on Friday night after working his way back from a fractured right foot, which he suffered in late August, Scheyer did precisely what he set out to do.
"Dariq did well," Scheyer said following his team's 92-58 home win over the Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens (1-2, 0-0 CAA), three days after the 69-64 loss to the No. 6 Kansas Jayhawks at the Champions Classic in Indianapolis. "He hasn't even had a week of practice under his belt...We knew there would be some rust...We were hoping to get him 15 minutes tonight, and I don't know if I'll always be that good, but we did get him 15 minutes, and so happy with that result."
Dariq Whitehead, an 18-year-old projected one-and-done lottery pick whose playmaking abilities open up a world of possibilities for the freshman-laden Blue Devils, finished his first college game with only six points and two rebounds while shooting 3-for-11 from the field across his 15 minutes and change.
But the 6-foot-7, 220-pound whiz kid seemed encouraged by his debut, especially after halftime, in light of his missed time.
In the locker room afterward, Whitehead noted that his conversations with Boston Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum, who missed all of November in 2016 with a similar injury as an eventual Duke basketball one-and-done, have proved invaluable.
"It was definitely scary," Whitehead said about his foot injury and its potential impact on his career beyond his time as a Blue Devil. "But [it's helped] being able to have someone like Jayson Tatum, who's been through the same thing I've been through, just talking to him and [having him] tell me what was going through his mind when he was here."
Tatum's primary advice? Don't rush.
"It's kinda the same thing for me," Whitehead explained. "Do I have a lot of time? How quickly do I need to get back on the court? Stuff like that. But just [Tatum] helping me, getting me through this process, telling me to slow down...Everything that I would need and have been waiting for is going to be there for me in the future."
Duke's next game is against the visiting Bellarmine Knights (2-2, 0-0 ASUN) at 8:30 p.m. ET Monday.
Stay tuned to Blue Devil Country for daily Duke basketball content.