UNC Basketball 2018-19 Player Previews: Nassir Little

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 28: Nassir Little #10 of Orlando Christian Prep drives against Zion Williamson #12 of Spartanburg Day School during the 2018 McDonald's All American Game at Philips Arena on March 28, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 28: Nassir Little #10 of Orlando Christian Prep drives against Zion Williamson #12 of Spartanburg Day School during the 2018 McDonald's All American Game at Philips Arena on March 28, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Freshman Small Forward Nassir Little continues our 2018-19 player previews just days before his well-anticipated debut against Wofford

Coby White |

Basketball season is right around the corner, and to kick it off we at Keeping it Heel bring you our 2018-19 player previews.

This year we are kicking the previews off by detailing one of the best freshmen classes in recent history for Roy Williams and his Tar Heels. This includes the crown-jewel of ESPN’s 7th ranked recruiting class in stud small forward Nassir Little.

Little comes in with the most hype of any UNC recruit since Harrison Barnes took his first steps in Chapel Hill all the way back in 2010.

Some say Barnes never met the expectations that he carried from being one of the most decorated high school players in history. These same people hope Little can bring a truly dominant solo presence the Heels have lacked since Tyler Hansbrough graduated.

If anything can tell us how Little will fare in his debut and the entirety of the season, it can be found in his high school tape.

2017-18 Season in Review

Little simply dominated the high school ranks racking up points, awards, and offers wherever he dribbled the ball. The five-star recruit made his highly anticipated announcement to UNC on October 4th, 2017 with family and friends by his side.

He went on to finish his career as the third-ranked recruit by 247 Sports composite rankings.

Though he gained notoriety in his time at Orlando Christian Prep, he truly ascended amongst stiffer competition during the Spring’s all-star games. He accomplished a rare feat by winning MVP of both McDonald’s All-America Game and the Jordan Brand Classic.

Against the cream of the high school crop, Little put up 28 points and five rebounds in the  McDonald’s All-America Game and 24 points and six rebounds in the Jordan Brand Classic.

The last UNC recruit to win an MVP of an all-star game was Justin Jackson when he put on a show for his McDonald’s East squad back in 2014.

UNC hopes Little can continue his trend of elite production against elite talent this upcoming season.

What to expect in 2018-19?

Though Little comes in as a much-heralded recruit, he will have to earn his minutes under Roy Williams.

However, he should easily do this and begin the season as a starter.

Little is a rare and freakish athlete that can rise above the rim like few have been able to do at UNC since Vince Carter. In fact, UNC guard Andrew Platek stated in an interview with Inside Carolina that Little is:

"“Obviously, one of the more athletic kids I have ever seen in my life. It is kind of the little things that make him so good.”"

This bodes well for the team and fans alike. It is not unreasonable to expect Little to be one of UNC’s top scorers and team-leaders in dramatic finishes above the rim. His ability to slash to the basket as well as being able to step out beyond the three-point line will make him a headache for opposing coaches.

If his season goes according to plan, it may be his only year in a UNC uniform as he is expected to be a high draft pick.

Strengths and something he needs to improve on…

Little’s biggest strength is his size, speed, and athleticism.

These physical qualities help him run the court like few others, rebound and gives him a full head of steam when slashing towards the basket.

His physical traits are what has gotten him this far, but continuing to refine the finer aspects of his game is what can take him to the next level. Some of his biggest knocks coming out of high school was his jump shot and passing ability.

These observations were warranted, but Little has already made strides this offseason to improve both. In regards to shooting, he had fellow Tar Heel Brandon Robinson convinced in an interview with Inside Carolina:

"“He can shoot the ball. I don’t think people understand that he can actually knock down some threes really well.”"

Little continuing to grow these aspects of his game will surely put the ACC and the rest of the NCAA on notice.

Bold prediction

Not only will Little be a starter, but he will be among the team leaders in point per game.

I’m not going to say he is going to outscore senior Luke Maye, but I’m predicting he will put up the stat line of 17.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, and one highlight per game. I also believe Little will come up big during tournament time, cementing himself as UNC’s first top-five draft pick since 2005.

Next. UNC Basketball 2018-19 Player Previews: Coby White. dark

Let’s hope this prediction comes true as it will be for the benefit of he and his family as well as the UNC Basketball program as a whole.