Bulls Want To 'Run With' Coby White

The Bulls selected White at No. 7 overall in the NBA Draft last Thursday.

Cody Westerlund
June 24, 2019 - 4:40 pm

CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- It was in late November when the Bulls got their first telling look at the lightning-quick style of North Carolina guard Coby White.

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General manager Gar Forman had been dispatched to scout the Las Vegas Invitational. While he entered the University of North Carolina with some fanfare and as North Carolina’s all-time leading scorer at the prep level, White wasn’t yet a household name from an NBA Draft prospect perspective.

That would change soon. White scored a game-high 33 points in North Carolina’s close loss to Texas on Nov. 22, a night in which he shot 7-of-10 from 3-point range while dishing three assists. The next night, White went for 19 points and distributed the ball more with eight assists as the Tar Heels earned a win.

"My phone was blowing up with texts from Gar," executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said.

White’s shooting, playmaking and ability to push the pace were the primary reasons the point guard-needy Bulls made the 6-foot-5 White the No. 7 overall pick in the NBA Draft last Thursday. There remain questions about his ability to facilitate in the half-court and whether he’s a true point guard, but there’s no doubting White’s commitment to running. North Carolina was a top-10 team in pace and offensive efficiency with White leading the Tar Heels to the ACC regular-season title last season.

Now it’s incumbent on the Bulls to follow White’s lead when the moment calls for it. When his usual platitudes about heart and hustle, spirit and soul were out of the way Monday, Bulls coach Jim Boylen acknowledged that at an introductory press conference for White and second-round pick Daniel Gafford at the Advocate Center.

"The most important thing for us is when the ball is in his hands, we have to run with him," Boylen said.

The Bulls have been too stagnant in doing in recent years. That includes last season, when they ranked 20th overall in pace and 21st after Boylen took over for the fired Fred Hoiberg on Dec. 3.

Boylen believes White will help spark the Bulls offense in a number of ways as White grows himself. Chicago ranked second-to-last in offensive efficiency while going 22-60 in 2018-'19.

"We loved his positional size, we loved his multi-position defender and multi-position ball-handler," Boylen said. "He can play on the ball, he can play off the ball. He can create, he can receive.

"We want to play faster. We want to play smart, but we want to play faster when it's appropriate. He's a guy that can make decisions on the move. We've got to get the rest of our team to run with him. That's going to be our job, and I'm excited for that. I also think he can play in the half-court because he can shoot. He has deep range. One thing that him and I have talked about that we're going to work on is the decision-making process, when we run and when we set up and the decisions we make in the half-court. That's going to be part of us learning each other and growing."

Reflecting on the whirlwind past few days, the 19-year-old White admitted that it "hasn’t really hit me yet." White has projected great joy in the aftermath of realizing a lifelong dream. He expressed what his late father, Donald, meant to his journey in a poignant essay in The Players Tribune a few days before the NBA Draft. He thanked his mother, Bonita, and the rest of his family for all their support in molding him as a person. He has praised his former coaches for their work in developing him into a lofty lottery pick.

"I can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done," White said of his support system.

By the time White has his first scheduled workout with the Bulls on Tuesday, his mind will turn back to the tasks at hand. He wants to improve upon his freshman performance at North Carolina, where he averaged 16.1 points, shot 42.3 percent overall and 35.3 percent on 3-pointers.

More than anything, White wanted to make clear that, "I'm all about winning." To help the Bulls reach that goal, he wants to make a name for himself, not be compared to anyone else.

"I guess Coby White," he responded when asked who to compare his game to. "I don’t know what else you want me to say – I’m Coby White, still coming into my own. I don’t really want to be compared to anyone. I still have a lot of stuff to work on."

Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for 670TheScore.com and covers the Bulls. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.