Tonight was the annual McDonald’s All-American game in Atlanta, Georgia. High school’s best seniors going into the college ranks came out and showed off what they could do to all of the college fans who have not gotten a chance to see them before. The headliner of the event before the game started was five-star Duke recruit Zion Williamson, who is becoming more and more of a household name as time goes on. By the time the night was over, however, the conversation (mostly) came to a hush as a young man showed that he belongs amongst the best of the class. Tar Heel fans: Nassir Little is legit.
Nassir Little won the MVP award for the game, and honestly I’m sure it wasn’t even close. Little finished the night with 28 points and 5 rebounds, and made 12-17 from the field, which was good for 70%. Little played with a high motor all week, in practice, in the slam dunk contest, and once again tonight. He let out a thunderous roar as the buzzer went off at the end of the game, showing he didn’t come to the All-American game to just show off: he was there to win.
The biggest takeaway from watching Little play tonight is that he is a dynamic scorer. If you are the type that likes to watch mixtapes on YouTube, you probably saw a large amount of dunks and not much else. While he is an great dunker, as was evident by an alley-oop he almost jumped out of the gym to grab, he can beat you in many different ways. He knows how to play you in the post, he can hit the step-back jumper, he can shoot the three-ball, he can shoot the three off of the dribble, he can beat you in transition. It’s a lot to take in for someone who hasn’t seen him play yet, and it’s becoming more and more apparent that he has a fair chance to start next year. With Roy Williams nothing is given, of course, but Little seems like he is more than willing to put in the work.
Another bright spot in Nassir’s game is his defense. Now granted, it’s hard to take too much away from this game in terms of defense for anybody because let’s face it: this game didn’t have a lot of good defensive play in general. However, Little made sure he pulled off a few defensive plays to show that he is committed to that side of the ball as well. He managed to pick a couple players’ pockets, including Zion Williamson, and managed to follow up the second pick with a dunk in transition. As I mentioned before, his motor just kept going all night, and what Tar Heels were rewarded with was a glimpse into a bright future.
Another future Tar Heel that played tonight is five-star combo guard Coby White. Unfortunately, Coby wasn’t able to get a great deal going during the game. However, I can tell you that Coby will also be extremely dangerous next year, particularly if he spends a good amount of time playing at the two. While this game didn’t provide enough information to provide a breakdown of what he can do on the court, I had the pleasure of watching him play earlier this year during a record-breaking performance in Raleigh. You can read all about it here.
It would’ve been easy for Nassir Little to take the back seat to the three top recruits in the nation that Duke acquired during the offseason. They were talked about a lot all week. A LOT. The hype was about as loud as I can remember for any class in recent memory, mainly because of Zion. However, Nassir went out there and proved that he belongs in any conversation about this class that is had around the country. If people weren’t talking before, they should be talking now.