North Carolina Basketball entered the 2018-19 season with high expectations despite the graduations of Joel Berry II and Theo Pinson. The arrivals of McDonald’s All-Americans Coby White and Nassir Little came with high expectations after White finished his high school career with the state scoring record, two consecutive North Carolina Gatorade Player of the Years and the 2018 North Carolina Mr. Basketball, while Little won the MVP in both the Jordan Brand Classic and the McDonald’s All-American Game.
White has started in every game for Roy Williams this season, but is shooting less than 30 percent from behind the arc and only 37 percent overall. He has 14 assists through five games this season, but has turned the ball over 12 times and needs to take better care of the ball. Little was supposed to start for the Tar Heels this season, but he has not started a game this season.
His role as the team’s sixth man has gone great through five games with Little being North Carolina’s third leading scorer at 13 points per game. Little came to North Carolina with the reputation of attacking the basket, but he has shown the ability to shoot the ball from behind the arc at 36.4 percent. His strong play through the first five games creates the question on if he should become a starter, but who should he replace in the starting lineup.
The natural answer is senior Kenny Williams who has struggled mightily from the floor this season, shooting 28.1 percent from the floor and 15 percent from behind the arc. He is a solid defender on the perimeter, but Little is also capable of locking opponents up on the outside. Williams’ ability to distribute the ball puts him in the starting lineup as Little has only six assists this season, while Williams is second on the team with 22.
Garrison Brooks is the other option for Little to start over, but the sophomore forward is in the midst of a breakout year. Through five games this season, Brooks is averaging 10.6 points per game on 62.2 percent shooting. He has made at least 60 percent of his shots in every game this season and has earned the right to start so far this season.
Little is more skilled offensively than Brooks, but the sophomore’s play and interior presence gives him the edge over Little. The role of the team’s sixth man is very important as the coach trusts someone to be instant offense for him off the bench. Little is one of the team’s most talented players and his ability to impact the game in multiple ways off the bench makes the Tar Heels a serious threat to cut down the nets in Minneapolis on April 8.