There were expectations.
Nassir Little knows it.
Little entered North Carolina for his freshman season as the No. 3 recruit in the nation, the MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game and the co-MVP of the Jordan Brand Classic.
In his one season at North Carolina, Little didn’t crack the starting lineup. The 6-foot-6 forward appeared in 36 games and averaged 9.8 points and 4.6 rebounds in 18.2 minutes. He said he’s now ready to move on to the NBA.
“Probably not, but it doesn’t matter,” Little said Tuesday when asked if he had lived up to the expectations of himself and others. “I know who I am as a player. Everybody’s journey is different.”
Little worked out for the Hawks on Tuesday ahead of the NBA draft next Thursday. The Hawks have six selections – three in the first round (Nos. 8, 10 and 17) and three in the second round. A player with his athletic ability and intriguing potential could be worth one of the Hawks’ top picks.
“I had a great time at UNC,” Little said. “I learned a lot. My thing was trying to be productive as I could in the amount of minutes I got. I think I did that on a high level.”
Little also faced some adversity before his short collegiate stay. He was briefly linked to the FBI’s investigation of college basketball bribery and corruption schemes and then cleared at the recent trial.
“I’m a tough kid,” he said of what has happened on and off the court. “If anyone was to go through it, I was probably the best person because of how I respond to things.”
Little was one of the players the Hawks interviewed at the NBA scouting combine in May. He said he had dinner with several Hawks officials Monday night and was to meet with coaches after his workout Tuesday morning.
Little could help fill a void for the Hawks. With the pending trade of Taurean Prince, the Hawks are very short on wing players, those coveted who are long, athletic, can shoot and play defense. He said his versatility will be an asset for the Hawks as he can score and defend multiple positions.
Just don’t tell him he his outside shot is a weakness.
“The biggest thing is handling the ball better,” he said of his desired area of improvement. “I think I shoot better than I get credit for. That’s not the forefront. If anything, improving my consistency because my mechanics aren’t bad. It’s just my consistency, making sure it comes out the same way every time. If I had to say what I need to work on the most it’s ballhandling.”
Little called himself a “perfect player” for the Hawks with his skillset.
“I think that is the good thing about me, my ability to guard multiple positions,” Little said. “Plug me in anywhere on the court and cause mismatches offensively. … On the wing, when I can get in the gaps and get to the basket, that’s when I’m at my best. Posting up smaller guards. Taking big guys out to the perimeter and attacking them. It’s kind of whatever the defense gives me.”
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