Can Nassir Little live up to the hype?
This is Dakota with Wednesday’s sports notebook.
The hype surrounding five-star recruit Nassir Little has been building long before he arrived in Chapel Hill. He finished the 2018 recruiting cycle ranked as the No. 3 player in the country per 247Sports and had offers from basically every top basketball school in the country.
Before Little has even registered a minute in a Carolina uniform, outlets like Sports Illustrated and Bleacher Report have him tabbed as a top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and one of the top players in college basketball.
The Big Lead ranked its top 50 players heading into the 2018-19 season, with Little at No. 3. Bleacher Report just published a mock draft that Little going second overall next June.
With all of the hype surrounding this kid, is there any way he will be able to live up to it?
History says, probably.
Because of the “one-and-done” rule in college basketball, recruiting rankings are more likely to correlate with draft rankings than with sports like football. There is less time for players to develop, grow muscle and work on their game. For some of these guys, they’re only on campus for a few months.
As such, many five-star basketball recruits, especially those at the top of the class, are drafted highly because of their athletic ability and potential ceiling.
Just look at last year’s class. The top five guys – Marvin Bagley, Michael Porter, Mo Bamba, Deandre Ayton and Collin Sexton – were all high draft picks, with Ayton leading the way as the first overall pick.
This trend continues as we look back at previous classes. The top five players from 2016 were all first rounders, and four from 2015, 2014 and 2013.
So what does this mean for Little?
For one, if he stays healthy he’s likely to be a top draft pick. Little is great around the basket on both sides of the court and is working on his three-point shot. Secondly, it will be a great asset for Carolina to have a top NBA prospect on the court, even if he’s enrolled only for one season.
When combined with preseason All-American Luke Maye and fellow five-star recruit Coby White, the future looks bright for Carolina in 2018.