Updated: Apr 1
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present Dariq Whitehead, from Newark, New Jersey:
Pro Insight: Describe your game. What are your strengths?
Dariq Whitehead: Getting to the basket and playmaking. I’m getting way better on defense and picking up full court. I’m getting way better at handling the ball too.
PI: Where are the areas you can make the biggest improvement in?
DW: My motor. I can go, but I need to be able to go at all times. My shot has been way better but I think it can get better and I can get it off quicker. I broke my wrist over the summer, but once I got through that and got back to Montverde, I started training right away and put in extra work on my days off.
PI: Most underrated part of your game?
DW: My playmaking. Being at Montverde, I make a lot of plays and play with a lot of the top guys.
PI: How have you benefited from competing with and against such elite players at Montverde?
DW: I’ve benefited a lot. Every day at practice they go hard. No one slacks. You have no choice but to compete hard.
PI: What have you learned from playing around guys like RJ and Cade?
DW: Work ethic and leadership. They have crazy work ethic and are great leaders. If you fall down, they are always there to pick you up. The coach gets on you, they always come over and say “next play”. Also, taking responsibility for what you do. That’s one of the biggest things in the culture. Owning up to your actions is something they respect a lot.
PI: With your family’s history in football, what do you take from that and apply to the basketball court?
DW: The toughness. I’ve played football since I was 5, and my brother plays professional football. We’d always crack on each other about who’s soft. So that toughness in a game physically and mentally.
PI: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve taken from your brother as a pro athlete?
DW: Take care of your body. He always tells me that.
PI: What’s your greatest memory on the basketball court?
DW: Probably my 8th grade year when we on the national championship with RJ Barrett. It felt really good.
PI: What do you need to focus on in preparation for the NBA?
DW: Everything. Getting stronger. Being a better playmaker. Finishing around the rim. My shot. Everything in general.
PI: Why do you wear number zero?
DW: I’ve always been number zero. It’s a number my dad liked. I’m going to stick with it.
PI: What do you love most about the game of basketball?
DW: My favorite thing is competing. My mom always asked what I like more about basketball than football and I always said it was that you get to compete more. I also think you get to travel more and see more things in basketball.
PI: What are your short term goals as a basketball player?
DW: I want to be ready to step up in a bigger role for Montverde. I want to win a national championship most importantly.
PI: What about long-term?
DW: I’ve always wanted to be a big-time player in the NBA and have a successful career.
PI: Do you model your game after anyone in particular?
DW: I always try to take what different players do best. My favorite player is John Wall and I do try to model my game after him. But really whoever is a great player. For example, if I need to work on my defense, I watch Tony Allen on YouTube to see what he does best.
PI: What skill are you going to hang your hat on in the NBA?
DW: I would love it to be scoring, but it’s not all about that in the NBA. So I’ll say playmaking.
PI: Hardest player you’ve had to guard?
DW: RJ Barrett. I was an 8th grader and he was a senior. He was bigger, stronger, and faster. He never cut me any slack from my first day of practice. He dunked on me on day 1. He kept bringing it all year.
PI: Who has influenced you most up to this point?
DW: My brother. I can call on him. He’s been through it and tells me all the right things trying to help me get to the level that he’s at.
PI: What are four words that best describe you?
DW: Smart. Encouraged. Brave. Respectful.
PI: Tell me one thing that most people have no idea about you.
DW: I’m really boring off the court. I don’t really do anything on the weekends when we don’t have practice or games. I’m low-key.
PI: What are you most passionate about outside of basketball?
DW: School. If basketball doesn’t work out, if you go through school, you can do anything you want in life.
PI: What do you imagine your life looking like in 10 years?
DW: Hopefully a great NBA player. I want to have a lot of kids that look up to me.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you want to be remembered for?
DW: I want to be remembered for the impact I leave on the game. I want people to remember that I changed the game and left a great impact. I want younger people to look up to me.