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Lightning-Quick Combo Guard Brings Instant Offense to the Association
There may be some question marks surrounding Coby White’s game as the 2019 Draft approaches, but none of them will be about his ability to score the ball.
Known for his expansive locks, White broke the North Carolina high school scoring record before arriving in Chapel Hill and broke Michael Jordan’s freshman scoring mark when he got there.
Defenders are bigger, stronger, just as athletic and vastly more experienced at the next level, but when a youngster’s posted stats like that, it’s very likely they’ll be able to score on the big boys.
The blazing-fast combo guard came to North Carolina as a pure scorer, but refined his point guard skills along the way. And while certainly not a finished product in that department, will come to the Association with more than just a big offensive resume.
But it’s that offensive resume that’ll land White in the Lottery – possibly as a top 10 pick.
As a freshman, the 19-year-old averaged 16.1 points per, canned 82 three-pointers, posted three games of at least 30 points and tallied 562 total points, leading his home-state Tarheels to the Sweet 16. He shot 35 percent from beyond the arc last year and has NBA-level range on his shot.
If Virginia’s system slowed its pro prospects down, North Carolina sped them up. The lighting-quick White flourished in Roy Williams’ up-tempo offense as a fearless scorer and facilitator in transition. White might be quicker end-to-end than the two point guards expected to go before him – Ja Morant and Darius Garland – next Thursday night.
White is what they call a “three-level” scorer. He has an explosive first step and gets to the rim easily, where he finishes well with either hand. He has a mixed bag of tricks in the mid-level game: pull-ups, step-throughs, euro-steps, giant-slayers. And he can drill the three-ball, despite an unconventional shooting stroke.
For such an efficient scorer, White – who has a very low release point – might have to tweak the mechanics on his jumper at the next level. He’s adjusted to it to this point – using his outstanding ballhandling abilities and quick trigger to create space. Despite all that, he was still one of the most efficient catch-and-shoot players in the country last year.
Scouts like the way his point guard skills developed over the course of his freshman campaign. He had some of his best games as a playmaker in March against top-shelf competition. He’s already an above-average passer in pick-and-roll situations, and his above-average size – 6-5, 185 – should allow him to play on or off the ball in the NBA.
But there are some question marks about White.
He’s not viewed as a top-level athlete, like Morant, and he doesn’t yet have the pure shooting stroke of Garland. In terms of measurables, his below-average wingspan concern scouts who don’t see him as a top-level defender.
The Wilson, NC native plays a high-speed, aggressive style which is both a positive and a negative. He can be out of control at times and – whether or not it’s a product of the system – has shown some questionable shot selection, attempting 6.6 triples per contest at North Carolina. White also closed the season on an eight-game shooting slump.
Lottery teams are often looking for added scoring punch – and if that comes in the form of a point guard, all the better. White should be able to get buckets at the league level, but plenty of guys can fill it up. But taking him in the top 10, some franchise will expect him to develop into a complete guard – and maybe the face of the franchise.
STRENGTHS The Cavaliers saw how a dynamic point guard can transform an offense and White is built in the same mold – an aggressive, explosive, end-to-end player who can score from almost any point on the floor. And like Sexton, White’s game is still a work in progress.
Arguably White’s biggest draw is his blazing speed – he’s virtually impossible for opponents to stay in front of. He’s a nightmare in transition, creating opportunities for himself and his teammates. But he’s just as deadly in the half-court set, able to blow by defenders with a quick-twitch first step and very good finishing at the rim upon arrival.
White is in constant attack mode and welcomes contact at the rim. But he’s also crafty in the mid-range game, which makes him even tougher to check considering his ability to accelerate past perimeter defenders.
Despite shooting just 35 percent from deep, scouts see him as a relatively polished shooter, despite his unorthodox release point. His percentages on catch-and-shoot triples were as good as almost any in the country.
WEAKNESSES White doesn’t turn 20 until midway through February, so there’s plenty of time to fix some of the warts that he’ll bring into Association.
While his calling card is his end-to-end speed, he still needs to find the right gear for the right situation. At times, he can play too fast, leading to turnovers and poor possessions. He averaged 2.7 turnovers per as a freshman.
Defensively, White has a long way to go. He doesn’t have the physical traits to be a top-shelf defender, with a light frame and short wingspan, but does move well laterally and has quick hands.
MEASURABLES: Body Fat: 4.3 percent | Hand Length: 7.75 inches | Hand Width: 9 inches | Height without Shoes: 6 feet 3.5 inches | Height with Shoes: 6 feet 4.75 inches | Standing Reach: 8 feet 1.5 inches | Weight: 191.4 pounds | Wingspan: 6 feet 5 inches
HOW HE'D FIT Word on the street is that White has already received a promise by a Lottery team and will be snagged somewhere in the top 10. He has a skillset that should see him in a team’s starting lineup not long after opening night.
After just a single season of college, he’s still rough around the edges, especially as a pure point guard who can get others involved. He’ll be playing with a lot of guys who broke state high school scoring records in a few months.
The offensive-minded White has similarities to both Collin Sexton and Jordan Clarkson. But the Cavaliers already have one of each – and they’re quite pleased with both.
They say you can never have too much of a good thing, but the Wine & Gold’s issues last year weren’t backcourt scoring. And anything can happen on Draft night.