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It's too early to tell if Dariq Whitehead will be in uniform when the 2022-23 Duke basketball team hosts Jacksonville on Nov. 7 in the first game of the Jon Scheyer era. After all, the presumed immediate starter is only one day removed from having surgery on his right foot, which he fractured during a team workout on Monday.

RELATED: Duke freshman Dariq Whitehead vows to return "better than ever"

The program's press release on Tuesday mentioned the expectation for Whitehead to return sometime in the fall. But should the five-star small forward and projected one-and-done lottery pick not return until the last few weeks of fall in December — perhaps out of extreme caution — he would miss some games.

Or maybe Whitehead, arguably the best player on Duke's reloaded talent-rich roster, returns just in time for the season opener. Even so, Scheyer might spend a few weeks easing him into the regular rotation to minimize the risk of reaggravating his injury.

On that note, the Blue Devils have nine games on their November slate.

It includes a bout against defending national champion Kansas in the Champions Classic on Nov. 15, a potential meeting with a stacked Gonzaga bunch in the Phil Knight Legacy two weeks later, and the ACC-Big Ten Challenge showdown against Ohio State just a few days after that back in Durham.

In other words, Duke may need a strong Plan B in case Whitehead is still in street clothes or not yet at full strength for its early heavyweight clashes.

Predicting the Duke basketball starting lineup minus Dariq Whitehead

Go ahead and chisel in the name of junior point guard Jeremy Roach, the only returning member from Duke's primary rotation last season. And pencil in freshman center Dereck Lively II, who finished No. 1 overall on the 247Sports 2022 Composite, one notch above Whitehead.

As for answers at the other three positions in a no-Whitehead starting five, they appear not so set in stone.

That trio could consist of almost any combination of the following group: freshman point guard Tyrese Proctor, sophomore point guard Jaylen Blakes, freshman shooting guard Jaden Schutt, grad-transfer wing Jacob Grandison, freshman small forward Mark Mitchell, freshman big man Kyle Filipowski, and grad-transfer center Ryan Young.

Without Whitehead's top-notch speed and premier playmaking ability, the forecast here is that Scheyer would opt for a potent mix of electricity and experience, ultimately choosing Proctor, Grandison, and Mitchell to start at the two, three, and four, respectively.

So to recap, here's this projected no-Whitehead starting lineup:

  1. Jeremy Roach
  2. Tyrese Proctor
  3. Jacob Grandison
  4. Mark Mitchell
  5. Dereck Lively II

With Whitehead healthy — the preferable option, obviously — Scheyer could remove either Proctor or Grandison and possibly replace Mitchell with Filipowski or Young.

Again, Duke isn't short on worthy starters, with or without Whitehead. With that in mind, and considering the relative unpredictability of Scheyer's preferences in his first year on the Blue Devil throne, it's all pretty much anyone's guess at this point.

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