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Dariq Whitehead available for Long Island Nets opener Friday night vs. Raptors 905 at Nassau Coliseum

The Long Island Nets open their season Friday night at Nassau Coliseum with Dariq Whitehead available for first time since being drafted.

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2023 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Long Island Nets, featuring returning G Leaguers, NBA two-ways and the two youngest draft picks in Brooklyn Nets history, will open their 2023-24 season at Nassau Coliseum Friday night vs. Raptors 905, Toronto’s G League affiliate.

The game will be Nets fans’ first look at 6’7” Dariq Whitehead, who’s been recovering from June foot surgery. The 19-year-old Duke product was taken at No. 22 in the June Draft, but didn’t play in Summer League, preseason or regular season. He and the No. 21 pick, 6’10” Noah Clowney, will highlight the 2023-24 Long Island roster. Clowney played both in the Summer League and Nets preseason games.

In an exclusive interview last week, Whitehead told NetsDaily that he expects to play and is nearly, but was not yet 100%.

“My recovery has been going good, I transitioned to playing five-on-five with no restrictions,” Whitehead told NetsDaily last Friday. “The only restriction I have is my minutes because it’s my third day of playing fives. I’m just trying to get my legs under me and get in game shape. Hopefully after our scrimmage against Westchester and some good play (in Long Island), I’ll be able to suit up with Brooklyn.

“Right now, I feel like I’m around 75 to 80% due to not having my legs under me yet. Once I feel like I have complete control on how my legs feel, which should be another two weeks, I’ll be good to go.”

Whitehead, 19, was the top high school prospect in the US two years ago at Montverde Academy in Florida but has been troubled by foot issues since then, undergoing the knife in August 2022, then again in June. Dr. Martin O’Malley, the Nets orthopedist known for his work across pro sports, performed the second surgery.

The Brooklyn Nets assigned Whitehead and Clowney to Long Island Thursday. The game kicks off at the Coliseum starting at 7:00 p.m. ET Friday. will be televised via the G League website.

Long Island also released its 12-man roster Thursday.

G League rosters include two-ways but nether they nor NBA players on assignment like Whitehead and Clowney, count against the 10-man roster limits. For Brooklyn fans, the other big names to watch include the Nets three two-ways: Jalen Wilson, the 6’7” small forward taken at No. 51 in the draft; 6’3” shooter Armoni Brooks who supplied 17 points in the Brooklyn Nets’ upset of the Miami Heat on November 1; and newly signed 6’5” shooting guard Keon Johnson who last played for the Phoenix Suns in preseason. Other than Whitehead and Clowney, Johnson is the youngest player on Brooklyn’s extended 18-man roster at 21.

Also on the roster are the Brooklyn Nets two affiliate players: Long Island’s sole big, 6’11” Patrick Gardner, who played college ball at Marist last season, spent his summer first with the Miami Heat in Las Vegas, then with the Egyptian national team at the FIBA World Cup in the Philippines where he averaged 8.8 points and 4.8 rebounds. Kennedy Chandler, the 6’0” point guard, is also available. The 21-year-old played for the Memphis Grizzlies last season before being waived in April. He was signed to Nets Summer League team.

Gardner is a local product, having grown up in Merrick, L.I., five miles from the Coliseum. Terry Roberts, a 6’0” point guard from nearby North Amityville, also made the team following an open tryout in September. Whitehead grew up in Newark.

“We’re going to play fast this year,” rookie head coach Mfon Udofia said in September. “We want to get out in transition and have easy chances to score. On the defensive side we are going to be physical, we are going to communicate, we are going to talk, and we want people to feel us. We want to mirror Brooklyn, and if we can mesh it to Long Island, we’ll make major strides.”

Jacque Vaughn said much the same thing in a discussion with beat writers...

After Friday night’s opener, Long Island will host the Greensboro Swarm, the Charlotte Hornets affiliate, on both Saturday and Monday. Both games will start at 7:00 p.m. ET. Games are televised on the G League website.

Tickets for all regular season home games at Nassau Coliseum are on sale now at longislandnets.com and Ticketmaster.com. Each of the three games during Opening Weekend will feature elevated programming including limited-edition fan giveaways, LI Nets Dance Team performances, and lawn games located in the North End Zone.

For the team’s season opener on Friday, Nov. 10, the LI Nets will distribute limited-edition branded fanny packs to the first 1,000 fans in attendance.