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NBA AM: Nassir Little Next College Sensation?

College’s basketball’s next sensation is a UNC commit who named MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game last week.

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University of North Carolina recruit Nassir Little was named the MVP of the McDonald’s All-American Game last week, scoring the third-most points (28) in the game’s 41-year history and drawing rave reviews from a number of NBA scouts in attendance at the exhibition events.

He almost certainly is a one-and-done pro prospect, but as the #10 overall prospect, it’s notable that Little was the one getting all the attention from scouts and winning the MVP award rather than one of the top-three Duke commits. There’s a really good chance he’s a top-five draft pick a year from now, and Roy Williams at UNC is thrilled to have him.

Williams almost didn’t have him, though. For a long stretch this past winter it looked like Little was headed to the University of Arizona along with Shareef O’Neal, but the scandal surrounding head coach Sean Miller scared both prospects away. O’Neal chose UCLA, and Little opted for North Carolina.

It wasn’t an easy decision for Little to make.

“Making that decision is stressful and strenuous,” Little told Basketball Insiders. “People keep telling you, this is the most important decision that you’re going to make in your life, at least up to this point. The school you choose can alter your career. It can either make a guy fall off if you don’t pick the right one, or you could end looking like one of the top players in the country if you choose right.”

These players really do struggle with these decisions and face a ton of pressure from just about everybody around them to make the right one.

“A lot goes into that decision, but eventually you just have to go with your gut feeling. With all the stuff that was going on (at Arizona), I had a couple of the schools in my final five, including UNC, go after me even more. At that point I just had to lay it all out and decide which option was going to be best for me.”

That, obviously, means Chapel Hill, which hasn’t really been a school to pull in a lot of the bigger-name prospects over the course of the last several years. Little may be the biggest-name recruit for North Carolina since Harrison Barnes, and he’s looking forward to making the most of his time at one of college basketball’s most storied programs.

“I want to make my own legacy,” Little said. “That’s something I believe in strongly, and North Carolina has history behind them. They have a coach that always has his fair share of success. I’m coming in with a great class this year, and I felt like I could be a great fit at UNC, win some games, and be really successful.”

That class includes fellow McDonald’s All-American Coby White and another top-100 prospect in Rechon Black.

“Coby, Rechon and I have been talking a lot. We’ve already had meetings between the three of us to talk about our expectations for next year,” Little said.

“Mostly, I’m excited to play against Duke. That’s obvious, but that rivalry is one of the best in all sports at all levels. “It’s been all Duke, Duke, Duke this recruiting season, but that’s expected… I’m looking forward to that level of energy and competition.”

He’s going to get that energy and competition playing in the ACC, but he’s already looking forward to the challenge. Based on what he showed in Atlanta last week at the McDonald’s All-American events, he’s ready for a bigger stage.

Joel Brigham is a senior writer for Basketball Insiders, covering the Central Division and fantasy basketball.

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