UNC Basketball: A look at Stilman White’s journey through the program


We take a look back at what could have been for Stilman White in 2012

The North Carolina Tar Heels are just days away from tipping off the 2016-17 season in New Orleans against Tulane.

Fresh off an appearance in the National Championship Game, the Tar Heels are looking to complete some unfinished business.

It won’t be easy however but the Tar Heels are up to the task.

Despite losing Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson and Joel James, the Tar Heels still have some experience on the roster.

That includes senior Stilman White.

While White is not expected to rack up the minutes this season he still has some valuable experience in a worst-case scenario of a major injury to a key player.

White has been in UNC’s program since 2011 as he was recruited by Roy Williams out of John T. Hoggard High School in Wilmington. That 2011 class never really panned out as it was highlighted by James Michael McAdoo and P.J. Hairston.

The guard wasn’t expected to play much in his freshman season as he was a fourth string guard on a very talented team. Then injuries happened.

UNC lost Dexter Strickland during ACC play and then star point guard Kendall Marshall during the NCAA Tournament.

All of a sudden, they were down to just White at point guard.

White was asked the difficult task of playing the court general on a loaded team destined to get to the National Championship Game. But that never happened.

As a number one seed, UNC lost to number two seed Kansas in the Elite Eight with White as the starting point guard. It’s unfair to blame White for the Tar Heels losing that game but injuries happen.

He went out there and played very well despite the heart-breaking loss.

Sure, UNC would have had a better shot with Marshall who went on to win the Bob Cousey Award that season with the Tar Heels.

But White did what was asked of him and finished with seven assists and no turnovers. He earned respect from Tar Heels fans even if they did lose.

Williams spoke on White’s job during that 2012 NCAA Tournament and had nothing but positives to say about his performance:

"“I thought it could have been one of the great stories ever, if we had gone on,” said Roy Williams. “It sort of got lost because we lost in the second game, the Elite Eight game. But I thought it could have been one of those great, great stories of who’s this guy coming out of nowhere kind of thing. He really did a nice job for us.”“Stilman’s job was just keep us where we’re supposed to be,” Williams said. “Don’t turn it over. Don’t try to do anything crazy. Stay between your guy and the basket, even if you have to give him 27 feet – it makes no difference.”"

That was White’s biggest moment of his UNC basketball career but just months after that, he would go through another important moment in his life.

White left for a 18-month Morman trip, shortly after that Elite Eight game. On the trip, White says that it was a good time to get himself physically ready to return to Carolina for his final three years.

In a way, White’s trip helped his basketball career as well.

White returned to UNC in 2014 but injured his foot in a loss to UAB. He returned to action in ACC play, against Georgia Tech. White only had three assists as he got playing time in nine games.

He then played in just 18 games for the Tar Heels during their Final Four run, getting to the National Championship Game. For White, it was nice to get to the spot he was looking to achieve for the Tar Heels back in 2012, so the trip to Houston had to be fulfilling.

Related Story: UNC Player Preview: Stilman White

While White wont fill up the stat sheet for the Tar Heels in 2016-17, he will still see some time off the bench. His ball handling skills have improved and he doesn’t make those bad turnovers that drive coaches crazy.

Expect to see White in during the “Blue Steel” time as a senior and fans remember what could have been back in 2012.