Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Kevin Willard Expects Isaiah Whitehead to Spend Time in NBA D-League
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. — With the Nets set to open their season Wednesday night in Boston against the Celtics, rookie guard Isaiah Whitehead is listed as inactive and Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard expects his former point guard to spend some time in the NBA D-League this season.
Whitehead was selected at No. 42 in the NBA Draft, and it’s quite common for rookies, especially second-round picks, to get sent down at some point during the season. Last year, 27 players drafted, including 10 first-round selections, played in the NBA D-League.
“He’s up here all the time [at Seton Hall],” Willard told me Tuesday at Seton Hall’s Media Day. “We’re excited for him. He’s a rookie in the NBA. You’re going to be on the inactive list, you’re going to go down to the D-League every once in a while, you’re going to play, you’re going to get your opportunities. That’s part of being a rookie in the NBA. He’s going to have to carry some bags, he’s going to have to do all that.
“The biggest thing we’re talking to him about is just making sure he stays sharp. Get extra reps in, get to the gym a little bit earlier, like he always does.”
Whitehead, a Brooklyn native, was at Seton Hall on Saturday for the Blue-White Scrimmage and also was in attendance that night at the Sharette Dixon Classic at Gauchos Gym supporting players, including his friend Isaiah Washington, a Minnesota commit who won MVP honors.
“It’s exciting to see him on an NBA roster, on an NBA court,” Willard said of Whitehead. “For us we’re just going to make sure we support him and he understands that it’s a long journey in the NBA. You can’t just sit there and say, ‘We’ll I’m not playing so it’s over.’ No, it’s the NBA.”
Willard also said having a player in the NBA should help recruiting.
“He helps us,” Willard said. “He’s the one out there calling kids up and calling guys up, saying what a great experience he had, we worked with him and all that stuff. So from that standpoint that’s what really helps. He’s all in with this team and he’s all in with us so it’s great.”
Speaking of recruiting, Seton Hall is in the market for a big man in the Class of 2017 and is also looking to add a point guard in 2017 or ’18.
St. Benedict’s Prep 6-10 big man Bourama Sidibe is considering Seton Hall, along with Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Syracuse, among others.
On the point guard front, Seton Hall is involved for two high-profile guys in Nojel Eastern of Evanston (IN) Township and Trevon Duval of IMG Academy (FL).
Willard visited with Eastern on Monday following his recent official visit to campus. Eastern trips to Ohio State this weekend and is also considering Purdue and Michigan State, among others. It remains unclear when he will commit or sign.
Duval recently re-opened his recruitment, but Willard and associate head coach Shaheen Holloway are among the coaches to visit him at IMG. Baylor, Kansas, Arizona, Oregon and Maryland are among others involved for Duval, who is expected to commit late.
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.