Oct 26, 2012; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Shaw Bears forward Karron Johnson (13) with the ball as North Carolina Tar Heels forward Joel James (0) defends in an exhibition game at the Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

UNC Basketball: The Amazing Journey of Joel James

Almost always when you hear the story of any successful athlete that story begins when they were a child.  The love of the game they play starts early and the obsession begins.  Years of work, honing their craft, giving up traditional childhood activities to travel on AAU teams during the summer, entire days spent at the local park putting up hundreds of jumpers.  Like most things in life, sports requires hard work, usually.

In the case of North Carolina freshman center Joel James however that is not the case.  James has only played organized basketball since his sophomore year of high school.  This both amazes me and kind of makes me a little sick as the dream I still wish would have came true but didn’t tugs at the walls of my stomach whenever I hear tales like this.

James took up organized basketball his sophomore year of high school and by his junior season was being recruited by some of the top college basketball programs in the nation.  When he first committed to Roy Williams and UNC the fit seemed a bit odd.  James was over 300 pounds and looked nothing like the typical big man at Carolina and most wondered how he would keep up with the fast break style employed in Chapel Hill.

Since then James has reportedly shed more than 60 pounds before adding 20+ pounds of muscle to his frame and now looks like a chiseled beast in the middle for Carolina.  The critics were skeptical of James’ offensive ability in the post before impressive outings in the scrimmages at Late Night with Roy and against Shaw.  Now James is a favorite amongst fans and could be in line to start the opener against Garner Webb.

Looking at how fast he has adapted to the game of basketball and his amazing physical transformation, the sky is the limit for the freshman big man.


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