CHAPEL HILL – In what will be his second trip to the Final Four in as many years, Wilmington native Stilman White is riding a wave only few athletes get a chance to do during one’s career.
Now a senior on the University of North Carolina Men’s Basketball Team, White understands the enormity of the situation he’s been lucky enough to be a part of during his time in Chapel Hill under Coach Roy Williams.
Following his freshman year, White took a two-year absence from the program for a Mormon mission and returned to the basketball team moving into the 2014-15 season. Three years later, the Hoggard High School graduate has embraced his role as a bench player, but any Carolina fan knows White has often found himself on the floor during crucial minutes in the biggest games on the biggest stage throughout his days in Tar Heel blue.
He made his first college start in the NCAA Sweet 16 as a freshman. White ended up playing 60 minutes without a turnover in the Sweet 16 against Ohio and Elite Eight against Kansas during the 2011-12 campaign.
Last season, he saw action in 18 games off the bench as a backup point guard. He played in two ACC Tournament contests and four NCAA Tournament games, including the Final Four versus Syracuse.
White has yet to have that sort of moment as a senior, with the exception of playing just five, yet big, minutes defending expected NBA lottery pick De’Aaron Fox during a crucial part of Sunday’s Elite Eight game against Kentucky. He knows all too well his name could be called at any time and with at least one more game guaranteed as a college basketball player, the Wilmington native will be ready.
Just two wins away from an NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship, White and North Carolina heads to Phoenix, Arizona, for the Final Four. After dropping last year’s national title game in dramatic fashion on a last second buzzer beater to Villanova, the Tar Heels represent a staple of college basketball back in the Final Four alongside three programs not accustomed to competing at this stage.
Ahead of North Carolina’s trip to the desert, White took part in Port City Daily’s Facebook Live broadcast from Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill prior to his final practice inside Dean Dome. His interview is listed below.
While North Carolina gets set to make a record 20th Final Four, fellow number one-seed Gonzaga will be making its first Final Four appearance.
South Carolina had a 44-year run of not winning a game in the NCAA Tournament before March Madness got underway this year. The Gamecocks are looking to make it a Palmetto State sweep after Clemson won the College Football National Championship earlier this year. Coastal Carolina (Conway,SC) also took home the 2016 College World Series National Title.
North Carolina’s opponent, Oregon, out of the PAC-12 Conference, defeated Michigan, 69-68, and number one-seed Kansas to get in. The Ducks are headed to the Final Four for the first time since 1939.
Final Four April 1 schedule
No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 1 Gonzaga; 6:09 p.m. ET
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 3 Oregon; 8:49 p.m. ET
National Championship, Monday April 3