To anyone familiar with Coby White’s game, his place in the starting lineup wasn’t merely a matter of if, but when. On Friday, in a final exhibition game against Mount Olive, head coach Roy Williams seemingly answered that question: He’s ready now.
What Williams saw from White against Mount Olive — 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists — was nothing that the Hall of Fame coach hadn’t seen from the Goldsboro, N.C. native before. The 6-foot-5 combo guard dominated at the high school level, finishing as the all-time leading scorer in North Carolina state history with 3,573 points at the prep level.
The last first-year point guard to immediately step in as a starter was Marcus Paige in 2012, and his role was more so the result of necessity and not one of luxury. The Iowa native was thrust into a starting lineup after Kendall Marshall, who declared for the draft in the offseason, left Paige as the only viable point guard on the roster.
Coach Williams is facing a similar predicament this year with Seventh Woods as the only other lead guard remaining from last year’s active roster. The most impressive aspect of Woods’ defense is his knack for poking the ball loose and forcing turnovers, an aspect of the game that Williams desperately needs from his team.
Offensively, he’s even worse. The kindest way to describe his contributions is to simply say that, well, he doesn’t contribute at all. Woods ranked dead-last among players with significant minutes last season in both offensive rating (77.4) and offensive box plus/minus (-4.3), signaling that whenever he’s on the court, he’s doing far more harm than good on the offensive end.