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Forward Patrick Williams is Tar Heel ‘fam’ for Bulls guard Coby White

They’ve known each other for years thanks to their connection on the North Carolina basketball circuit, so, of course, White was the first Bull to welcome Williams to Chicago on Wednesday.

The Bulls’ Coby White has been friends with top draft pick Patrick Williams for years.
The Bulls’ Coby White has been friends with top draft pick Patrick Williams for years.
AP

Playing high school basketball in the Tar Heel State makes you family for life.

That message was reiterated Wednesday night after the Bulls selected forward Patrick Williams. Bulls guard Coby White made that loud and clear.

Not only did White give the pick his stamp of approval — tweeting out, “My guy pat happy for you fam welcome!!’’ — but he also made a video for his newest teammate.

“What’s good Pat, man,’’ White said. “Welcome to the team, family. Excited for you . . . it’s an honor to have you part of our organization, man.’’

So what was the connection?

It’s a Carolina thing.

White played at Greenfield High School, while Williams was at West Charlotte, but they crossed paths numerous times on the Summer League circuit.

“Coby White is actually from North Carolina, so just growing up, all in high school playing against him or with him in some camps,’’ Williams said. “We played each other often, pretty much every summer. And coming into this pre-draft, I was already close with him, so I kind of leaned on him for questions or advice or anything I needed.

“It’s kind of crazy that I get drafted to the Bulls.’’

But White couldn’t prepare his newest teammate for whichever role Williams will fill immediately.

“I pretty much told them I’m here to contribute any way I can,’’ Williams said. “Whether that’s starting and playing big minutes or coming off the bench and providing a spark. I’m just here to contribute.’’

Patience required

The Bulls’ roster wasn’t expected to undergo a major facelift going into this draft.

Allowing Kris Dunn and Shaquille Harrison to test the free-agent market was considered a real possibility, but the core was expected to remain with a few new faces from the draft.

So how can general manager Marc Eversley actually expect much better from a team that posted a .338 winning percentage last season?

Well, it starts with new voices at the top of the coaching food chain.

“I think if we put together an efficient, effective player-development program, you will see a quick turnaround as far as the output these players give,’’ Eversley said.

Billy Donovan brings a different voice to the gym. He brings winning, he brings leadership, he brings player development, and I think if you put that voice at the top of this thing, I think our players will grow. I don’t know if it will be immediate, but they’ll grow.’’

And if it doesn’t, no worries. There are options. The Bulls will be shedding cap space after this season and could lose even more if they trade Zach LaVine. In other words, Eversley knows that the 2021 free-agent class is approaching and loaded with elite talent.

Flipping this roster if it doesn’t respond to those new voices remains a real possibility.

“We do have assets going forward in terms of the flexibility a year from now, and, again, if we can grow these players internally, I think we’re going to see success on the court,’’ Eversley said.

“This team is better than a 22-win team, the talent is, so I think if we tweak it and do some little things, we’ll see some results that are positive.’’