Evaluating Nassir Little, Coby White, and Luke Maye in the North Carolina-Stanford Game

November 12, 2018

by Alan Lu

Today, I decided to watch Nassir Little and North Carolina take on Stanford in an early season, non-conference basketball game.  North Carolina played well in all areas of this contest, as they won handily, and they were led by the strong play of Luke Maye and Cameron White in the process.  Here are my thoughts on how Nassir Little and the other prospects fared, as well as how their games may translate in the NBA.

Nassir Little was heavily anticipated to have a very good game, and he did do some good things on the court, but unfortunately, he did not end up playing that well in this game overall.  He did have some good moments, as he is an energetic player that possesses solid athletic gifts, which can allow him to make some nice hustle plays on both ends of the floor.  Little did a good job of scoring on hustle plays.  He was able to score on a tip-in after leaping up to get an offensive rebound.  Plus, he also made a nice cut to the hoop, and he leapt up high to catch a lob pass to score on a thunderous alley-oop dunk.  However, he did miss a shot inside around the basket on a separate occasion.

He also showed a decent ability to get scores off the dribble.  Little was able to score smoothly on a drive off the glass, and he also knocked down a pull-up, mid-range jumper.  However, he missed on a couple of other drives when he would look to take the ball to the basket, and he struggled to make these shots consistently as he would be prone to rushing them.  Also, he was unable to connect on any of his three-point attempts.  Despite running off of screens to get the ball, Little did not make a spot-up three off the catch in this game against Stanford.

In addition, he will need to improve his decision-making skills on offense.  For the positives, Little handled the ball well off of defensive rebounds, and he also managed to find an open shooter in transition to set up a scoring chance for a teammate.  However, he also threw inaccurate passes that would lead his team to commit turnovers.  One was dropped by a teammate of his out of bounds, and he also threw a hasty pass that ended up getting intercepted.  Plus, Little also dropped a catchable pass in transition, and he also almost committed a turnover when he ended up getting tied up on a fast break drive another time.

On the bright side, Little did do a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was quite active at crashing the glass, and he managed to haul in multiple boards on both ends of the floor.  He also showed off above average defensive skills.  Little is a solid help defender that plays with a lot of energy, as he can poke balls away to get steals and deflections for his team, and he also rotated on a drive to block a shot to himself due to possessing good length, athleticism, and timing to do so.  He also will look to contest shots to force misses.

However, Little can tend to gamble too much defensively, as he can be caught ball watching, and can end up out of position too often.  Sometimes, he would get beat off the dribble, which would cause him to occasionally commit a foul, or allow scores, and he also struggled to stay with his man another time due to backpedaling too far underneath the hoop.  Also, he was called for a reach-in when rotating on a drive once, as he can be too undisciplined on this end of the floor at times.

In general, though Nassir Little did not play well overall against Stanford, he still may be a good prospect as he can do many different things when he is on the floor.  After playing well in limited minutes off the bench in the first couple of games, and currently he is viewed as a potential top 5 pick for the 2019 draft.  He will have to polish up his overall game and play more under control and with discipline, but Little is a talented player that may possess considerable upside as a prospect for the next level.

For North Carolina’s 6-5 freshman combo guard Coby White, his performance was a mixed bag.  He did not shoot the ball well and struggled with turnovers, but he also is a speedy playmaker that can make plenty of plays when he is on the floor.  White showed a fairly good ability to get scores in transition.  He is a fast, agile player that can quickly get into the lane, and he would often get to the free throw line by drawing fouls on fast break drives, but sometimes, he would be prone to missing shots in traffic, as he can be prone to rushing his shots too much on occasion.

He had trouble knocking down pull-up, mid-range jumpers consistently, but he would look to take many of those shots when he was on the floor.  However, White did not look to take any threes against Stanford.  Also, he displayed decent playmaking skills.  White is an unselfish player that will make the extra pass to move the basketball.  He managed to throw a long outlet pass in transition, and he also can kick the ball out to shooters to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  But sometimes, White can play too out of control at times, as he can be prone to throw errant passes that could end up astray or being intercepted, and he also committed an offensive foul another time by trying to clear out on a fast break drive.

White did play solid defense.  He is a pesky defender that possesses a very good motor, and he has good speed to make numerous plays on the ball.  White ran back on defense to intercept a pass to get a steal, and he also deflected a pass to almost get another.  Plus, he also managed to contest a three to force a miss, but he did get called for fouling an opponent when defending a drive due to over-aggressiveness.  In summary, Coby White did not have a great game, but he is an athletic, talented combo guard that may possess considerable upside.  He is a tall playmaker that can run the point, and his speed allows him to get into the lane on offense, and to get steals on defense.  He will need to learn to play more under control, but if White can continue to develop as an overall player, he could end up being selected in the late first round range in 2019, as he could be an upside pick that could succeed if given proper coaching and a good development system in place.

North Carolina’s 6-8 senior forward, Luke Maye played very well, as he showed off a variety skills on offense to help his team win by double digits.  He did a good job of scoring in the post in this game.  Maye would establish solid position on the block, and he would tend to score on turnaround jump hooks.  He also showed off an adequate ability to knock down jumpers, as he used a pump fake and dribbled to the left to make a smooth pull-up three towards the end of the first half, as he also drew three free throws on another pull-up three.  Plus, Maye would make high-motor plays, as he can get to the line by actively looking to score using off-ball movement.  Adding to that, Maye also drove to the hoop to get a score around the basket.

Also, he displayed good playmaking skills.  Maye is a patient player that throws solid interior passes as he can routinely hit cutters, as he also found an open shooter off the dribble to notch an assist.  He did have one pass intercepted, but generally Maye showed off good basketball IQ and floor vision to make plays on offense.  Maye did a very good job of rebounding the basketball, and he would often leap up to get defensive boards when he was on the floor.

Defensively, he looked to be about average at best.  For the positives, Maye was active at challenging shots in the paint, especially on drives, and he managed to swat a shot off of a drive.  Plus, he also altered a shot on a cut to force a miss around the basket.  But sometimes he would give up too much space to his man or be late on his rotations, which would allow his opponent to score on jumpers.  He also struggled to defend quicker players at times, as he would get beat on moves, which would cause him to commit a foul or allow scores at times.

Overall, Luke Maye put forth a solid performance to lead his team to a win over Stanford, and he may have had the best game among all players that played in this contest.  Though he may only be an average athlete at best, he is a smart, skilled player that can score in a variety of ways, and he also is a good passer.  With his skill set, he could be a potential second round pick in 2019, as he may be a player similar to current Utah Jazz forward Georges Niang in the NBA.

North Carolina’s senior swingman, Cameron Johnson played very well, as he excelled in all facets of the game to lead his team to a double-digit victory over Stanford.  He shot the ball well, showed some ball movement and rebounding skills, and he also was quite active defensively in this contest.  He did a very good job of knocking down jumpers to space the floor for his team.  Johnson excelled at making spot-up threes off the catch, and he also ran off of a curl to do so once.  Plus, he also was able to make a pull-up mid-range shot inside the arc.

Adding to that, he did a good job of getting scores off the dribble.  Johnson managed to score on a floater.  On another play, he also lowered a shoulder to score on another drive while getting an extra free throw simultaneously.  In addition, Johnson managed to score on a dunk off of a cut.  He also displayed decent playmaking skills.  Johnson threw a lob pass to set up a score on the break, and he also did not commit a single turnover when he was on the floor.

He also excelled as a rebounder, as he would actively crash the glass to get numerous defensive boards, and he also managed to push the ball up the floor off of one.  Plus, he also played adequate defense.  Johnson would tend to put himself in good position defensively, and he also poked a ball away from an opposing ball handler and tied him up to almost get a steal.  However, he did get beat on one play, which caused a teammate to rotate to commit a foul on a drive on one possession.  In summary, Cameron Johnson played a solid all-around game, and he especially showed a knack for knocking down shots from all over the floor.  He is an athletic forward that can shoot and score the basketball, and he could be a second round pick in 2019, as he could project into being a solid role player in the NBA.

Stanford’s 6-9 sophomore forward, KZ Okpala had a slow start, but he quietly had a good game, as he showed off good athleticism, a solid ability to attack the basket to garner scores on offense, and he showed off a variety of skills when he was on the court.  He also showed off an adequate ability to get scores off the dribble.  Okpala is an aggressive player that has a good first step to the hoop, and he can quickly get there to draw numerous free throws.  He also used a hesitation move to score on an emphatic dunk, and he also managed to score on a reverse layup off of a high post drive.  But sometimes, he can miss shots too wildly around the basket when looking to take the ball to the rim.

Plus, he also showed a good ability to finish plays at the rim to get scores on hustle plays.  Okpala managed to score on an emphatic dunk on a fast break drive, and he also scored on a strong put back while getting an extra free throw.  He did get blocked on one put back though, as he can be prone to rushing his shots on occasion.  While he didn’t look to take many jumpers, Okpala was able to knock down a spot-up three off the catch once.

Also, he also displayed decent playmaking skills.  Okpala showed a solid ability to kick the ball out to shooters off the dribble to set up scores for his teammates, but every once in a while, he can struggle to protect the basketball when he’s looking to make moves on the floor.  Okpala also did a great job of rebounding the basketball.  He excelled at hauling in boards on both ends of the floor, and he would actively haul them in to help his team in this game.

He also exhibited decent defensive skills.  Okpala is an active help defender that can make plays on the ball, and he can jump passes and swat shots off of drives to get steals and blocks for his team.  However, he may give up too much space to his man, as he can allow scores in the post as well as off the dribble.  In summary, KZ Okpala is an athletic combo forward that shows promise as a two-way player in the NBA.  He is an aggressive scorer off the dribble, and he also possesses a good motor.  Right now, he may be a second round prospect, as he could end up being a good role player at the next level.

Stanford’s 6-9 sophomore forward, Oscar da Silva had a decent showing in his team’s loss to North Carolina.  In this game, he showed off a variety of skills, as he can make shots from all over the floor, and he also did a good job of moving the ball and defending in this game.  Da Silva did a very good job of scoring on hustle plays.  He excelled at scoring on cuts as well as in transition, and he managed to throw down a couple of strong dunks around the basket.  Plus, he also shot the three-ball well, as he managed to make a long-range jumper off of a pick and pop play.

However, he struggled to consistently score off the dribble, as he would tend to miss shots in traffic, but he did use a spin move to score on a layup once.  He also attempted to score in the post, but ended up getting his shot blocked that time.  Plus, he also displayed decent playmaking skills.  Da Silva is an unselfish player that will make the extra pass to keep the ball moving, as he also threw a drop off pass on a drive to set up a dunk once.  But he also did commit several turnovers as he can be inaccurate with his passes, and he also traveled on a baseline drive due to carelessness.  He also did a good job of rebounding the basketball, and he would often leap up to get defensive boards to help his team.

Also, he played fairly good defense.  Da Silva did a good job of playing passing lanes, as he can intercept and deflect passes to get steals and deflections, and he also poked a ball away from an opposing ball handler in transition to help his team force a turnover.  Da Silva possesses good hands as he can tie up opponents on drives, and he also has good size and strength, which allowed him to hold his ground when defending in the post to force a miss.  However, he also can be too foul prone on the defensive end.  He was called for a reach-in foul when defending in transition, and he also committed a blocking foul on a drive to give up a score and a free throw another time.  Another time, he bit on a pump fake, and was out of position, and he ended up fouling an opponent on a pull-up three.

Overall, Oscar da Silva is a talented player that showed off a variety of skills, and he is an athletic combo forward that can make numerous plays on both ends of the floor.  He will need to cut down on turnovers and fouls and show a better ability to create his own shot on offense, but his ability to make hustle plays and shoot the basketball could make him a potential second round pick if he decides to enter the NBA draft in 2019.

Daejon Davis did not have a great game for Stanford, but he is a quick, shifty ball handling combo guard that will look to get scores off the dribble, and he is also an active help defender.  He generally had trouble scoring on drives to the hoop, and he also was called for a couple of touch fouls, but he could be a player to keep an eye on in the future.

Kenny Williams had a very good game for North Carolina.  He excelled at making spot-up threes off the catch, he also scored on a cut, and he also managed to split a double team to score on a drive in transition.  He did a good job of moving the basketball as he will look to find the open man, and he also played adequate defense, as he will play passing lanes to get steals and deflections. 

Sometimes, he may be late to contest three-point shots, which can lead him to allow scores, and he also bit on a pump fake after trailing his man on a cut that caused him to commit a foul, but generally Williams defended well.  Overall, Williams had a solid showing in his team’s win over Stanford, and he is a skilled, underrated prospect that could end up getting a Portsmouth invite, as he could likely end up making an NBA team’s summer league roster.

North Carolina’s 6-9 sophomore, Garrison Brooks ran the floor well, and he did a good job of scoring on hustle plays.  He also flashed the ability to score in the post, as he used a pump fake to score off the glass.  Plus, he did a great job of rebounding the basketball, and he is an athletic big man that could be a player to keep an eye on for a future draft.

North Carolina’s 6-7 freshman swingman, Leaky Black had a very good game off the bench, as he was the breakout star for his team against Stanford.  He showed a knack for scoring on pull-up jumpers off the dribble, and he also excelled at scoring on high motor plays.  He scored on an emphatic dunk off of a fast break drive, and he also managed to score on a put back.   Black also managed to intercept a pass to get a steal.  Overall, Black is an athletic basketball player that played well in virtually every facet of the game, and he could be a player to watch sometime down the road.