Coby White didn’t arrive at North Carolina expecting to be a one-and-done player like his teammate Nassir Little. But after a freshman season in which he led the team in assists and ranked second in scoring while earning second-team All-ACC honors, White is joining Little in the NBA Draft after just one college season.
The 6-foot-5 Goldsboro native formally announced his decision to enter the draft on Wednesday. He is projected by most draft websites as a top-10 pick, with at least one having him ranked among the first five players taken.
“This season has taught me so much and I wouldn’t trade the opportunity to play at UNC with a group of guys that have truly become my brothers for anything,” White said in a statement issued by UNC. “These past 10 months have been the highlight of my basketball career and I’ve grown so much on and off the court. Thank you is not enough to show my gratitude to the best coaching staff. They pushed me and the entire team to be the best players we could be.
“The growth we experienced by coming together, not only as team, but a real family made this year unforgettable.”
White came to Chapel Hill with a reputation as a prolific scorer after setting the NCHSAA career scoring record, and he backed it up by averaging 16.1 points and 4.1 assists, making a UNC freshman record 82 3-pointers and shooting 80 percent from the free-throw line.
He had the fifth-highest scoring average ever by a UNC freshman in helping the Tar Heels to a share of the ACC regular season championship and the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. His 552 points were the fifth most by a freshman in school history.
In the process, he became the first Tar Heel rookie ever to score 30 or more points three times in a season, hitting for 34 against Syracuse and 33 against both Texas and Miami.
“I just loved every minute of coaching Coby,” coach Roy Williams said. “He committed to us prior to his junior year, so even though he played one season as a Tar Heel, we’ve known his family for a long time. It’s been an honor to have gotten to know them.
“His father (who passed away prior to White’s senior year in high school) told me he wanted his son to play for me, which is one of the neatest compliments I’ve ever been given. Coby not only played for our team and for himself, he played to make his father proud, and he certainly has accomplished that.”
White was named to the ACC All-Freshman team and earned ACC Freshman of the Week honors five times, a figure surpassed only by former Tar Heels Tyler Hansbrough, Brandan Wright and Sam Perkins.
He was one of four players to be a finalist for the Wayman Tisdale Award, given by the USBWA to the national freshman of the year.