It’s funny how things come full-circle.
Headed into the championship game of the John Wall Holiday Invitational, UNC signee Coby White needed 38 points to break the long-held tournament record. Through the first two games, White compiled 78 points.
In 1990, former UNC great and 1993 National Champion Donald Williams set the 115-point record. Who would White face to break the record? Williams’ alma mater, Garner Magnet.
A couple of notable names recently came close, scoring 111 points in the annual tournament: NBA star Devin Booker and 2017 National Champion and decorated Tar Heel Justin Jackson.
White scored 41 to break the record, but his Greenfield squad would fall to Garner, 80-90. The future Tar Heel set a new record of 119 points at the historic tournament while scoring his 3,000th career point in the final quarter.
White concerned himself with winning, losing himself - and track of his point total - in the game in front of a full-capacity crowd, future teammates Brandon Huffman and Jalek Felton, and future coach Roy Williams.
”At the end of the day, we lost,” White said. “The scoring record didn’t matter.”
As ESPN’s top-ranked recruit in the state of North Carolina, White could easily take the season off and prepare himself for the next stage of his career, but it’s clear he’s focused on the plate in front of him.
White channeled his inner-Kenny Williams throughout the game, diving for loose balls, drawing a charge and slashing to the basket, eliciting a quiet applause from Roy Williams.
“He didn’t care about the record,” Greenfield coach Rob Salter said. “People were talking about it in the stands, but he didn’t care.”
Going into the game, White knew 38 points would give him the record, but with under a minute left, he had no clue another basket would tie the record. With his coaches telling him to score, White slashed to the rim to tie the record, an extra shot awarded with a foul.
The crowd quieted. White sank the shot, giving him sole possession of the record, but he didn’t realize it.
“I was confused,” White said, pointing at Salter. “He was telling me to score like two points, and I was like, ‘Why? Why are you telling me to score like...? We’re down by 10... What’s two points going to do?’”
After an assistant coach told him he had broken the record, White said “it doesn’t really matter.” After the emotions and adrenaline had worn off, White talked of the achievement.
”It’s an honor,” he said. “One of my greatest accomplishments.”
Salter closed the evening, remarking on his senior leader.
”You watched a special, special week from a special, special player,” he said. “Something you haven’t seen in 30 years, and probably something you won’t see in another 30 years.”