Former North Carolina Tar Heels guard, Coby White tells HollywoodLife that his ‘fire’ and ‘will to win’ is unmatched among his fellow NBA draftees.
Alec Jacoby “Coby” White believes in himself. Most, if not all athletes would say that’s half the battle when declaring for the NBA Draft. Think about it, there’s only a couple hundred players in the NBA. And, after draft night on June 20, Coby White will have secured one of those jobs.
Before we sat down with the former Tar Heels guard, 19, his confidence radiated throughout the makeshift court at the Moxy NYC Downtown, where he partnered with JCPenney to host an evening of mentorship for 16 young men on the local Boys & Girls Clubs basketball teams. Coby, who was decked out in a custom grey suit by JCPenney, explained what sets him apart from others in the draft pool. “I think I’m the most competitive player in the draft. It’s because of my fire, will to win, and how hard I play every night,” he told HollywoodLife during an exclusive interview. “The versatility that I bring to the game and my position,” are more reasons he says his passion both on and off the floor is unmatched.
In a heartfelt essay, titled “For My Father”, which he penned for The Players’ Tribune, Coby explained how his father’s death will make the NBA Draft one of the hardest nights of his life. He revealed that it was his late father who first placed a basketball in his hands. So, not having his “hero” there on draft night — the man he credits for his love for the game — is a moment he wishes he could share with his dad.
Elsewhere in the essay, Coby recounts the anger he felt toward God when, at 17 years old, his mom told him his father was going to die of liver cancer. After speaking with his mother and sister, he realized he needed to allow himself to heal instead of bottling up his feelings. “So I just started talking to God a lot more, and praying every night, and after a while, I started to get a sense of relief,” he wrote in the essay. Through that process, Coby’s faith in God was eventually restored. That is something he told us is one of his keys to success.
“I feel like I’ll get even stronger and my faith in God will get stronger,” he told us about his process of prayer. “You know, God is the reason why I’m here, he blessed me with a talent and a gift and I feel like I’m fulfilling it in the right way,” Coby continued.
Top NBA Draft prospect Coby White partners with JCPenney to show off his style as he heads to the draft, Thursday, June 20, 2019, in New York. His fully customized JF J. Ferrar suit includes a personalized liner with an assortment of cancer awareness ribbons to honor his father. (Photo credit:
How has telling your story about your father helped you get to the NBA?
It was good to express it and to let everyone know what I’ve been through, and what I’m still going through. It was hard to write and to talk about it, but it was good for me emotionally to get it all out.
What will you take away from UNC into the league?
The professionalism, just how professional it was. Every game we’d have to wear suits and travel, it was great. I learned those skills, but also balance. I’m still having fun being a kid. To me, you gotta have a mixture of both if you want to enjoy life.
Take us through the moment you realized you were going to be drafted.
I think it hit me when I finished my year at North Carolina and I went to go train. I didn’t have to go to class, and I was like man, ‘I’m about to get drafted for real.’”
How has the pre-draft process been?
I’ve been training six days per week in Thousand Oaks, CA., It’s been good. The major takeaway for me is that I didn’t have to worry about class so I’ve been able to focus everyday on getting better and being better. I’ve been training with Donovan Mitchell. I feel like this is your time to make changes as a player.
What are you going to bring to your new team?
A player who’s ready to get to work and a player who’s ready to win. A player who has the ultimate confidence, who’s a leader on and off the court.
Will you be taking it easy on Donovan and Dame when you get out there?
I’m going to go extra hard against anyone I play against every night.
Are you going to keep your hair?
Oh yeah! I think it makes me unique.