- Get to know what to expect from Coby White, a combo guard with a big-time scoring reputation who could be an answer for UNC at the point.
In the one-and-done era, college basketball fans have grown accustomed to having to get to know a slew of new, highly-touted names and faces each season, many of whom will spend just one year on campus before moving on to the NBA. Just look at the 2018 draft, where it took 10 picks before Mikal Bridges became the first non-freshman (or international) to be selected. Not all elite freshmen will pan out, but history dictates that many of them will help headline the sport for the next year—and, for some, maybe even beyond.
With that in mind, SI.com will be introducing you to the top incoming freshmen in college basketball and breaking down the impact those players could have this season. The rankings are according to RSCI Hoops, a composite that averages from 25 different expert top-100 lists. We move to the No. 27 overall recruit, North Carolina's Coby White.
What he means for the Tar Heels' recruiting class
The consensus five-star combo-guard is part of Roy Williams’s 12th ranked recruiting class, along with five-star wing Nassir Little (No. 3 in the RSCI rankings) and four-star point guard Rechon ‘Leaky’ Black (No. 64 in the RSCI rankings). White, a North Carolina native, is the No. 3 ranked shooting guard in his class and a nationally pedigreed scorer. He notched 1,056 points in his senior year of high school alone, averaging more than 30 points per game while also tallying 10.3 rebounds and 9.1 assists. His career 3,573 total points set the North Carolina state record across all classifications—a record that White holds in the same state that produced both Michael Jordan and John Wall. White’s a dynamic offensive threat, transitioning from wing to combo guard to a true point guard during his high school career. The 6’3” McDonald’s All-American rounds out an impressive Tar Heel trio coming to Chapel Hill this season.
How he fits
With the loss of starting point guard Joel Berry II, White and junior guard Seventh Woods figure to be the frontrunners to win the starting point guard spot. Black and junior K.J. Smith are also expected to be in consideration, with the potential for shooting guard Brandon Robinson to also get thrown in the mix at the two. White will have to work his way into the starting lineup for the one-spot with a crowded backcourt in Chapel Hill. It’ll take some time for White to find his fit in Williams’s offense, but his versatility as a combo-guard will certainly be an asset. Once he adjusts to the speed of NCAA play, White will be able to use his explosiveness to get buckets—and to get them often. He can without a doubt get the ball to the basket, whether it’s at the rim or a quick-release jumper. His ability to score in the paint will help Williams, whose team relied on three-point shooting more than usual last season, and his ability to power himself to the basket is another plus when playing against ACC defenders in one of the country’s toughest conferences. With first-team All-ACC forward Luke Maye and senior shooting guard Kenny Williams returning alongside several solid sophomore bigs and a host of talented guards, there is plenty of veteran leadership on the roster to show the highly touted freshmen the ropes.
Importance to UNC's success/team outlook
After winning the national championship in 2017, the Tar Heels struggled to find their footing last season. They finished 26–11 and 11–7 in ACC play and were knocked out in the Round of 32 by Texas A&M during March Madness. This year, they will need to take advantage of the added depth afforded to them by this incoming recruiting class and amp things up defensively if they want to return as a contender in the ACC. Last season's team struggled with Williams’s 22 defense, a man-to-man set that, when played poorly, allows teams frequent looks beyond the arc. After late-spring adjustments saw improvements last season, the team needs to keep that defensive focus going into the fall. Thankfully for the Tar Heels, their 2018 recruits are the strongest that Carolina has seen in recent years. With their talent, Williams’s guidance and renewed focus on both ends of the court, this team could certainly piece together a stellar season.