Freshman point guards have notoriously been a labor of love in Roy Williams’ system, but Coby White had an outstanding freshman campaign that catapulted him into the conversation as a lottery pick in this year’s draft. Most people didn’t think of White as a one-and-done player when he arrived in Chapel Hill, but that all seemingly changed as the season went along. His success has landed him in a decent spot to be the first Tar Heel off the board.
White finished second on the team in points per game at 16.1, just behind Cameron Johnson’s 16.9 mark. We all know the amazing year that Johnson had, so the fact that Coby was so close in terms of scoring should say a lot. Coby’s facilitation skills were called into question at the beginning of the season as he found his groove between high school and college, but he really settled into that role down the stretch for the Tar Heels.
On the year, White shot 35% from distance and 42% from the field. He made some incredible shots and put the entire team on his back for multiple 30+ point performances. Coby and his growth as a player was a huge reason why Carolina was able to tie Virginia for a share of the regular season title.
There were times late in the year when it seemed like UNC was approaching “As Coby goes, so go the Heels” territory. His success seemed to breed success for his teammates. Often that would be because teams would need to guard him tighter in the second half after a big first half, opening the door for Johnson, Luke Maye, or another teammate to pick up the slack.
I’ve already expressed my personal thoughts and feelings on Coby and how he managed to find a special place among UNC players after just one year as a Tar Heel. It’s disappointing for us that we won’t get to have White in Chapel Hill for longer, but his freshman season helped Carolina get back to the Sweet Sixteen and was so much fun to watch. That’s why he is our Freshman of the Year.