Joel James is coming off a four-game hiatus where he is recovering from a concussion. There are four games left in UNC’s regular season, including a visit to #3 Dook’s Cameron Indoor before the ACC tournament. It is imperative that Joel James brings his 6’10’’, 260 pound frame to the low block in these next four games in order to secure UNC a NCAA tournament seat. So what does the rest of the season look like for the big man?
Well, he needs to pick up his stats—they’re pretty underwhelming. James is averaging 2.7 points per game, 2.9 rebounds per game, and .3 assists per game. For his low-post size, he should be sneezing at 2.7 and 2.9. He just needs some more minutes against larger ACC opposition and of course, that will come with time. Roy Williams has yet to trust Joel with more minutes and so, for the time being, James will put up comparable numbers if his low amount of court time remains consistent.
One of the reasons James hasn’t seen much playing time is that the Tar Heels are throwing up strong offensive statistics. UNC is 11th in points per game at 78.1, 6th in rebounds per game at an impressive 40.8, and 3rd in the nation in assists per game. However, they are an abysmally low 123rd in the nation in field goal percentage at 44.2% from the field.
So how do they improve the low field goal percentage? Get the ball closer to the cup—pretty simple. However, that means Joel James will have to prove himself more than he has to Coach Roy.
In the next four games, UNC faces only ranked Dook (where James will likely draw Mason Plumlee for defensive assignment). That means Tar Heel fans look for Joel to get solid minutes against Clemson, FSU, and Maryland. With the exception of perhaps Maryland, none of those teams are solid contenders to make the Big Dance but make no mistake, they will be looking to build momentum to surprise everyone with an ACC tournament win and automatic berth. It will be a good test for the young Joel James to bounce back from the injury and prove himself. He should put up at least five points and five rebounds over the next three games.