Nassir Little came to North Carolina with the stated intent of being a one-and-done college player.
Monday, just three days after the Tar Heels’ NCAA Midwest Region semifinal loss to Auburn, he followed through on that plan by announcing he was declaring for the NBA Draft. The 6-foot-6 freshman made the declaration on his Twitter account. He will hire an agent and not return for his sophomore season.
“I am ready now to put everything I have into being the best player I can be at the next level,” Little said in his statement.
Little arrived at UNC with great fanfare after winning MVP honors ast both the McDonald’s All-American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic. But he was never able to crack the Tar Heels’ senior-dominated starting lineup or average more than 18 minutes per game while struggling with his consistency off the bench — especially on defense.
Two of his best performances as a Tar Heel came in the NCAA Tournament, when it finally began to look like the difference maker he was hyped to be while scoring 19 points against Iona, then following that up with a 20-point, seven-rebound effort against Washington.
But, weakened by the flu, he was only able to score four points in his final college game, going 2 for 7 from the floor and having four shots blocked in Friday’s 97-80 Sweet 16 loss to Auburn in Kansas City.
“Nassir is just an outstanding young man who has been a complete pleasure to coach,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “He played a big part in our success this year and would have done even greater things late in the year were it not for a couple of injuries he sustained in mid-February. I am excited to watch his development and pro career.”
Despite averaging just 9.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, Little is still projected as a lottery pick by most NBA Draft sites.
“This past season on and off the court has been amazing,” Little said in his statement. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to attend such a prestigious university and play for such a storied basketball program. With that said, it is time to pursue my lifelong dream and enter the 2019 NBA draft.
“Although this is the end of my college basketball career at North Carolina, I will forever have Tar Heel blood running through my veins.”
Fellow freshman point guard Coby White, who is also expected to declare for the draft, has yet to make an announcement about his basketball future.