North Carolina freshman big man Joel James has been cleared to play after missing three consecutive games. James suffered a concussion against Wake Forest on February 5th then played nine minutes against Miami before the concussion was discovered. Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams announced James’ upgraded status but warned that the freshman may not play Saturday due to his conditioning.
Carolina’s small ball lineup will be challenged by a physical NC State team and the Heels could use James’ 6’10″, 260 pound frame against the Wolf pack. James is averaging 2.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and has shot 49% from the field in 11.3 minutes per game for the Tar Heels this season.
James struggled at the beginning of the season, coming into college with just three years of basketball experience he often looked confused and often found himself out of position leading to some head scratching fouls and turnovers. His progression throughout the season is undeniable and he has a nice touch inside the paint.
James’ work ethic is well documented, after committing to Carolina he put in some hard work to shed weight dropping over 60 pounds then adding around 20 pounds of muscle to his massive frame. Joel isn’t a traditional type of player in Roy Williams’ system, standing 6-10 weighing 260 pounds he is physically imposing and looks more like a defensive lineman than a basketball player in person.
Over his last few games, James started to improve and cut down on his mental mistakes looking more and more comfortable in college basketball. The consensus on James is that although he is extremely raw he has a lot of talent and once his basketball IQ catches up with his body and soft touch he could be a dangerous player.