It’s a tradition at North Carolina that the freshman aren’t allowed to talk to the media until after the first game. That means fans will have to wait until Nov. 6 after the Tar Heels’ game at Wofford before they hear from guards Coby White and Rechon “Leaky” Black and forward Nassir Little.
But that doesn’t mean head coach Roy Williams and the UNC upperclassmen can’t discuss the three freshmen.
Here’s what they had to say.
The Bahamas Trip
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North Carolina played two games in the Bahamas in August, and that gave Williams and the veteran Tar Heels their first glance at White, Black and Little in real game situations.
“You have three freshmen who are very gifted and give you new enthusiasm that we talk about. First thing you love is they are talented, they are gifted, no question about that. Playing in the Bahamas gave us an opportunity to see them in game action that a lot of times you don’t have. Their talent, their work ethic, their mental preparation, I think they did a great job. I know they will step up and be able to play for us.”
On Little: “He got a tremendous amount of publicity and he’s tremendously athletic, wants to be really good.”
On White: “Coby got a little less publicity and is really gifted, plays really hard. He pushes the ball at the pace that I like it to be pushed at.”
On Black: “Leaky is maybe as versatile after six or seven practices as anybody I’ve ever had.”
Sophomore guard Andrew Platek
On freshman trio: “They are great guys, first and foremost, I think they are great teammates, great people. They are so much fun to play with because they are so talented and pick up stuff so fast. (I think) they are going to have a huge impact this year.”
On Little: “Big time player. He’s one of the most athletic people I’ve ever seen in my life. He can jump out of the gym, but I think it’s his I.Q. that really stands out to me. He knows where to be and where the ball is going and he seems like he’s always in the right spot.”
On White: “Super fast, quick. Makes good decisions, really good point guard, will be great for us this year. Really good shot maker, doesn’t force. He’s a very smart, very cerebral kind of player.”
On Black: “Leaky’s kind of a Swiss Army Knife, kind of jack of all trades, do it all kind of player. He’s long, gets in the passing lanes, deflections, rebounds, whatever you need, he’ll be the guy.”
Sophomore forward Garrison Brooks
On freshman trio: “They are hard workers. I think they are growing a lot everyday, they get better everyday and that’s the biggest thing for them.”
Their personalities: “I really enjoy being around them, they have great personalities, come from great families.”
Sophomore forward Sterling Manley
On first impression of the freshmen: “They picked up stuff quick. They are very talented players, very humble guys. And they are staying in our ears, staying in coaches ears, being the last ones in the gym working out, working out on Saturday’s and Sunday’s and stuff like that.”
Knowing they can all contribute this season: “Just seeing them in pickup and practices, you can see the glimpse that once they really understand it and get what we are trying to do, it’s going to be a really special class.”
Junior forward Brandon Robinson:
On their personalities: “They are all real goofy, so it’s kind of hard to get a read on it.”
On their bond when they arrived on campus: “I think they all knew each other when they came here. Coby and Nassir played together in the McDonald’s All-American game and the Jordan Brand Classic. Then Coby and Leaky played AAU together, so they had a tight bond when they first came versus my class, we didn’t really know each other, but they had a tight bond since they got here.”
A picture of a buffed up Little surfaced around the time of the Bahamas trip, making it clear that the Florida native had been spending time in the weight room. Little is listed on the roster at 220 pounds, about five pounds heavier than his weight during the Jordan Brand Classic last spring.
On Little’s new frame
Brooks: “I have no idea. I wish I could have done that … I kind of did do that, but not like he did.”
Platek: “He’s just built different, man, I don’t know. It’s in his DNA, in his genetics.”
Robinson: “It’s incredible. He’s a different type of athlete. I’ve played with some people who can jump out of the gym, he’s one of those people who, it’s just incredible, I don’t even know how to explain it.”
The lead dog
As freshmen, it could be easy for White, Black and Little to fall in line behind the seniors, on and off the court. That still holds true, but when asked who the alpha dog of the rookie group is, the same name kept coming up.
Platek: “I would have to say Coby. Once he gets into the zone and his element, there’s no stopping him.”
Brooks: “Coby. It’s like, being a point guard you have to be a leader, so I guess that’s kind of his thing.”
Robinson: “Coby has that alpha dog mentality. He wants to win, be the best every time he steps out on the court. In everything that he does he wants to be the best, that’s that mentality that he has and it’s just not on the court, it’s off the court. He’s definitely the alpha dog of the freshman class.”
Manley: “He (Coby) may not say much when he’s off the court, but when he steps on that court it’s a whole different ball game. He’s going at your neck, it doesn’t matter. He’s aggressive and super high energy.”
Senior forward Luke Maye: “I think Nassir comes off as kind of an alpha dog, but I wouldn’t put it pass Coby to take that a little further with his mentality.”