North Carolina Tar Heels freshman forward Nassir Little has foregone three years of college eligibility to enter the 2019 NBA draft on Monday.
“I am declaring for the 2019 draft with the intention to start my NBA career,” Little told ESPN. “I am going to work extremely hard throughout the pre-draft process and my entire career to continue to grow as a player and person. I feel like I have a very high ceiling as a player, and I plan to reach that ceiling through consistent hard work.”
A few days after getting annihilated by the Auburn Tigers, the Tar Heels felt the first casualty of their 2018 recruiting class. Little was a ballyhooed basketball talent out of Orange Park, Florida. However, the entire season did not go as planned for the McDonald’s All American MVP.
Little averaged 9.8 points and 4.6 rebounds in 18 minutes of action for the Tar Heels. He played in all 36 games during his freshman season, but didn’t make a start for the No. 1 seed in the Midwest region. He only shot 26.9 percent from 3-point range. However, Little did complete his college career at 48 percent shooting.
Yet, Little did not have many answers during Carolina’s most critical moments. After scoring 19 points in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against the Iona Gaels, Little returned with a 20-point effort in a win over the Washington Huskies. Unfortunately, he only scored four points in the loss to the Auburn Tigers. Little was fighting off an illness in the game and never gave the Tar Heels any punch off the bench. He scored a career high 23 points against the Virginia Tech Hokies during conference play. It’s those moments, NBA scouts will look to most.
Little produced 18 double digit scoring games as a freshman. That’s quite impressive when you realize two of Carolina’s most prolific scorers also play the forward position. He filled his role nicely for the most part.
“To be honest, my primary focus when I enrolled at North Carolina was just this current season — being the best I could be on the court and in the classroom,” Little said. “Now that the season is over and the NBA is within reach, I’m shifting focus. But, I didn’t really think too much about this point until the season ended. Improving as a player, winning games, and doing well in school really dominated my thoughts all year.”
The Tar Heels finished with a (29-7) record. They finished the regular season No. 3 in the AP Top 25 poll. However, the Tar Heels didn’t win the ACC regular season or tournament titles.
Little is listed at 6’6 220 pounds. He has a long wingspan, measured around 7’1.” Little may become a prospect to play the guard position in the NBA. He still has to make a lot of improvement in perimeter shooting. Yet, Little has an opportunity to become a tremendous defender on the next level. It just may take a long time to get there.
Little must impress NBA scouts during the pre-draft workouts. If not, he will be a candidate to slip in the first round over the Summer.