Coby White played 35 games for North Carolina last season. Barack Obama attended one of them.
With all due respect, the former Commander in Chief didn’t take in the Tar Heels’ upset of then-No. 1 Duke to check out White’s hairdo.
So, yes, the Bulls’ rookie knows a little something about the hype and buzz surrounding Zion Williamson, who comes to town with the Pelicans for a nationally televised preseason game against the Bulls Wednesday.
“He’s the one getting everybody to come,” White said following Tuesday’s Bulls practice at the Advocate Center. “So for sure, it’s a different buzz.”
White’s association with Williamson dates to high school and AAU days. That’s when Williamson might’ve been a name but not a hyped phenom.
“He’s what you see, what everyone else sees. He’s 6-6, big, strong, athletic, powerful,” White said. “It’s nothing new. It’s just seeing it in person.”
Williamson did nothing to slow the hype train in his Monday preseason debut. Less than two minutes after tipoff against the Hawks, Williamson threw down one monster jam. In 28 minutes, he finished with 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.
“He’s a rare breed, at his size to do what he does,” White said.
Too bad Wendell Carter Jr. will miss the opportunity to play against his fellow Duke product, out for a second straight game with his bruised tailbone. Carter met Williamson briefly during his recruiting visit and cited his maturity in handling the hype.
“He had a lot of people around him boosting his head up. But I think he has his head on right,” Carter said. “He knows exactly what he has to do as far as working.
“People doubted that he would be able to do it at the next level, stuff like that. But I was watching him in summer league and that first preseason game and he’s not going to have any problem transferring that. I know he’s going to do wonders in this league.”
The Bulls are focused on correcting mistakes made in their preseason-opening loss to the Bucks on Monday, not to mention getting healthy. Boylen admitted concern over Carter’s lingering injury, and Chandler Hutchison, Shaq Harrison and Ryan Arcidiacono are banged up, although Arcidiacono tried to play through his stiff back.
Wednesday could bring the debut of Bulls center Luke Kornet, who practiced fully after missing the first week of training camp with turf toe. But that’s not where the fans’ focus will be.
“I guess I understood his talent is exceptional and his athleticism is legendary. I just like the spirit he plays with, the energy he brings. He seems to enjoy when his teammates have success and plays with emotion. I like guys like that,” Boylen said of Williamson. “He brings juice to the building. I heard he practices hard and works hard. You gotta love those kind of guys.”Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.