UNC freshman Little declares for NBA draft

ByJonathan Givony ESPN logo
Monday, April 1, 2019

North Carolina freshman Nassir Little has decided to declare for the 2019 NBA draft, forgoing his remaining college eligibility.

"I am declaring for the 2019 draft with the intention to start my NBA career," Little told ESPN. "I am going to work extremely hard throughout the pre-draft process and my entire career to continue to grow as a player and person. I feel like I have a very high ceiling as a player, and I plan to reach that ceiling through consistent hard work."

Little came into North Carolina as one of the most highly regarded prospects in his class. He was No. 6 in the ESPN 100 recruiting rankings after a dominant senior season in which he was named MVP of the McDonald's All American Game and Jordan Brand Classic.

"To be honest, my primary focus when I enrolled at North Carolina was just this current season -- being the best I could be on the court and in the classroom," Little said. "Now that the season is over and the NBA is within reach, I'm shifting focus. But I didn't really think too much about this point until the season ended. Improving as a player, winning games, and doing well in school really dominated my thoughts all year."

Measured at 6-foot-6 with a 7-1 wingspan, Little piqued the interest of NBA scouts starting in the summer of 2017 with his explosive athletic ability, defensive versatility and aggressive style of play. Playing behind All-America candidates Cameron Johnson and Luke Maye, while battling nagging injuries, Little came off the bench for UNC and ended up playing just 18 minutes per game, the lowest figure of any collegiate player projected to be drafted, which ultimately caused his stock to drop.

Little, who averaged 9.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game while shooting 48 percent from the field and 77 percent from the free throw line, is ranked No. 16 in the ESPN 100 draft rankings.

"I think for every young player there's always more to show," Little said. "I didn't shoot the 3 much this year, but I shot it well from the free throw line, and I look forward to showing teams that I can shoot the 3 consistently as well. I also think when the game speeds up at the next level, my length, athleticism, and versatility on both ends will impress."

Little will begin to prepare for the NBA pre-draft process immediately, with an eye on showing teams that there is more to his game than he was able to show in his role at North Carolina.

"I take a professional approach to everything I do," Little said. "I'm coachable. I am a good teammate. I think once everyone sees all these things and sees what I can do as a player, I'll land in a great situation where I can grow and help a team win."