Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

UNC Basketball: What the Return of James Michael McAdoo Means

James Michael McAdoo announced he would return for his sophomore season at Carolina on Thursday.  McAdoo’s announcement ended an anxiety riddled week for Tar Heel Nation.  UNC already lost Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Kendall Marshall as early entrants to the NBA Draft.  McAdoo who said after the Elite 8 loss to Kansas that he intended to return.  He then changed course and stated that he would discuss his future with his family the following weekend.  When his decision was delayed it looked as if the freshman big would join his former teammates in the draft.  His parents continued to state their desire for their son to return to Chapel Hill for his sophomore season.  Now that he has made that wish come true, what does the return of McAdoo mean for the 2012-13 Tar Heels?

McAdoo’s return means so much to the Tar Heels.  A lineup without McAdoo would mean the possibility of two freshman starting inside for Carolina in Brice Johnson and Joel James.  Both are four star recruits who are highly regarded and will make a nice impact in their careers at Chapel Hill.  At the same time, neither is ready to start right now.  Think of it this way, coming in as a freshman, McAdoo was rated as a five star recruit and was on everyone’s top five recruits list.  We all saw how much McAdoo struggled throughout the regular season to adapt to the college game.  McAdoo was much more talented than either one of the incoming freshman at the same point last year.  Even if one of the freshman ends up starting, the impact of playing next to a veteran, and likely star in my opinion can be huge.

I anticipate James Michael McAdoo to be not only the best player for North Carolina next season.  I expect him to be one of the best in the entire conference and a potential All-American candidate.  Looking at his stats 6.1 points, 3.9 rebounds in 15.1 minutes that statement looks crazy.  When you consider the fact that McAdoo sat behind Tyler Zeller and John Henson all season and would have started for any other team in the nation, well it still looks crazy, but I promise you it’s not.  The fact that McAdoo went to Carolina despite the presence of Zeller and Henson says to me that he understood he wouldn’t be a star until his sophomore season.  By the time the basketball season rolls around for 2012 McAdoo will be salivating at the thought of being the big man on campus.  Playing behind those two superstars on an ultra talented roster will go a long ways toward McAdoo not only playing a bigger role on the court, but becoming a leader for the Heels.

The second McAdoo was given an extended look, he was money.  It took until the postseason for Roy Williams to be put in a situation where he needed his freshman.  When Henson fractured his right wrist, McAdoo immediately stepped in and showed he was ready for the job.  His athleticism which barely peaked it’s head out during the regular season, started to burst through.  Very few, if any, power forwards will be able to handle the basketball, face up and create their own shot like McAdoo.  The kid can jump out of the gym, take the ball coast to coast by himself and do just about anything offensively asked of him.  He can be a terror on the boards with the advanced development of his body which looks like an NBA PFs not a freshman in colleges.  The struggles we watched him go through as a freshman was more of a reflection on his limitations playing such a small role than anything.  His performance in the post season demonstrated he could play well at this level, he just needed to play.

McAdoo is not a perfect player, and Tar Heel Nation should caution themselves before penciling in the Heels as a legitimate contender simply because he is returning.  UNC is still losing their four top players from last season and McAdoo still has a lot of growing to do.  It was obvious all he needed was more of an opportunity.  I strongly believe, if McAdoo had been playing 20+ minutes per game all season, he wouldn’t have struggled nearly as much.  His talent and athleticism are just too good to keep him down for long.  Thankfully for Carolina, they will have an entire season of an unleashed McAdoo next year.  How good will he and the 2012-13 Tar Heels ultimately be?  And what is it that he has to work on exactly?  Find out by making Keeping It Heel your daily stop for UNC Tar Heels news and analysis.  We’re all over the Heels like tears down Mason Bumlee’s cheek after getting blown out at home by UNC, all off season long.

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Tags: Chapel Hill FanSided Harrison Barnes James Michael McAdoo John Henson Kendall Marshall Roy Williams Tyler Zeller

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