Last fall, East Carolina coach Jeff Lebo spotted a player he believed could change the Pirates' program.
So, he traveled to Orlando (Fla.) Christian Prep to watch 2018 point guard Ronaldo "Rondo" Segu in open gym. While there, he noticed another player dominating the session. Physically imposing at 6-7, with a non-stop motor and a burgeoning perimeter game, Lebo saw someone who he thought could play at the highest levels of college basketball.
After learning Nassir Little - a member of the Class of 2018 - wouldn't have any interest in East Carolina, Lebo asked about North Carolina, where Lebo starred under Dean Smith three decades ago. The answer was yes, and on the way back to Greenville, N.C. Lebo phoned UNC assistant Hubert Davis. Davis passed the info on to fellow assistant Steve Robinson, who contacted Brad Augustine, program director for Little's AAU team 1FamilyHoops.
"Steve reached out to me months ago and got all the information on Nassir," said Augustine. "I told him he's a great kid, 4.3 GPA and he's a hell of a player. Steve said 'great, we'll make sure we watch him in April.'"
Augustine, Little and UNC had no contact over the last several months. Then, this past Saturday, Robinson showed up at 1Family's game against the Castle Knights.
Little didn't disappoint. He posted 17 points (7-12 FG), 9 rebounds and 3 assists in 1Family's 29-point win.
Less than 24 hours later, Roy Williams, fresh off a flight from Indianapolis, arrived in Atlanta and promptly watched Little and 1Family's 8 a.m. tip.
Again, Little didn't disappoint. He posted 22 points (9-16 FG, 2-3 3pt), 13 rebounds and five blocks.
"He's a night and day different kid from last year," Augustine explained. "All the things people say he needed to work on, his shot from outside and being able to handle the ball, he's put in the work to get better at. That's why you see him kind of exploding right now. The same kid who got every Division I school in Florida to offer him as a freshman just off of his motor and athleticism, now has added a skill set to go with it. He is shooting it at a high clip, finishing in the paint, handling it and everything. He's taking the next step. He's real quiet and unassuming - a '3-and-D' guy and our comp for him is Kawhi Leonard."
To this point, Little hasn't put a ton of thought into his recruitment as he's focused on his overall development. In addition to the Florida schools, he's receiving heavy interest from Georgia Tech, Louisville, Virginia Tech in the ACC, as well as Cincinnati, St. John's and Texas.
"Fit is really important to him," said Augustine. "He's not one of those kids that's going to post a top 15 or whatever, he couldn't care less about that stuff. It's 'where can I go be a part of a great culture, be a fit and have a great impact?'"
UNC followed up with Little's camp following the two evaluation viewings and he is in the process of setting up an unofficial visit to UNC for next month. If the Tar Heels decide to more aggressively pursue Little, he'd be receptive.
"There's no doubt about that," said Augustine.
"It was an impressive first weekend for Nassir Little. The versatile forward out of Florida proved to be one of the top prospects at the event, and at times was nearly impossible to guard. Little is a solid athlete, but it is his skill level inside and out that is so impressive. He has a refined game that allows him to post up smaller defenders while also being able to attack bigger players off the bounce. Little outperformed some highly touted prospects in one-on-one battles, and showed an improved game, making him one of the more interesting prospects in the entire country." - Brian Snow (4/24/17)
"For the second weekend in a row, Nassir Little has been named a top performer by Scout. Much like last week, Little was active, aggressive and showed a versatile attack on both ends of the floor. Little has grown physically and his body is filling out. His game has matured too. Little has the ability to play both forward spots and his length, athleticism and lateral movement allows him to defend multiple positions. He also showed the ability to make three-pointers off the catch." -- Evan Daniels (5/2/17)