Mar 9, 2013; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Joel James (0) and forward J.P. Tokoto (25) and forward Brice Johnson (11) react toward the end of the game. The Blue Devils defeated the Tar Heels 69-53 at the Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

UNC Basketball: Summer Improvement


The Tar Heels experienced something that they have not had to deal with in a while; an inexperienced team.

James Michael McAdoo did not live up to his huge expectations coming into the season even though he put up very respectable numbers. Joel James, Desmond Hubert, and Brice Johnson did not step up and fill the center position. JP Tokoto looked lost at times and his weaknesses were exposed. Marcus Paige took a while to get the grip of the offense. Reggie Bullock and PJ Hairston had to fill new roles that they were not accustomed to at the beginning of the year.

Now, all of last season is behind them and it is time to look at the season ahead.

Summers in Chapel Hill are very important to the Tar Heels. Many of the alumni come back to Chapel Hill to visit, play with, and teach the current members of the team. Summer is typically the most important time for improvement for the players. Events like the NC Pro-Am are great ways that guys can participate in and get better.

The Tar Heels need everyone to step up next season. For instance, Rasheed Wallace worked with John Henson over his summers in Chapel Hill and he developed a powerful post game and a solid mid range jump shot. PJ Hairston showed massive improvement from his freshman year and won the Most Improved Player award at the team’s awards banquet.

The key to the 2013-2014 season will be the improvement over this summer.

With incoming freshmen Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks, and Nate Britt, there is added depth in the front-court and at point guard. Even with the new additions to the front court and a full season under the Freshmen’s belts, it would be too soon to call this group experienced.

Brice Johnson played 10.6 minutes per game, Joel James played 9.4 minutes per game, and Desmond Hubert played 9.4 minutes per game. JP Tokoto only played 8.6 minutes per game.

Brice Johnson showed great things on the offensive end, but made many lapses on the defensive end and needs to get stronger. Joel James has a huge frame and soft touch with a lot of potential, but picked up many silly fouls and was out of shape. JP Tokoto showed great flashes of athleticism and solid defense, along with some good passing skills. Tokoto also looked lost at times, lacked a jumpshot, and committed silly turnovers. Desmond Hubert improved quite a bit from his freshman year, despite the stats he had. He a great impact on the defensive end. He blocked shots, altered shots, and could rebound the ball, but did not provide much to any impact on the offensive end.

Marcus Paige struggled to start off but showed great improvement over the course of the season, but still has areas to improve upon. He needs to get stronger and improve his assist to error ratio. James Michael McAdoo is one of the most athletic big men in the country, but he needs to improve his back to the basket game, his jumpshot, and just needs to learn how to slow down. PJ Hairston had a great season and showed that he is arguably the Tar Heels’ best player, but needs to improve his mid range game and needs learn how to get to the basket. Leslie McDonald has a good season coming off of his acl injury, but needs to develop something more than a three point shot. Needless to say, everyone has things they did well this past season and things that need to be improved.

Roy Williams has already stated that the Tar Heels will be going back to a traditional lineup with three guards and two forwards. Everyone will need to improve their overall game this summer in order for this upcoming season to be a success. Most of the time, a player improves the most between his freshman and sophomore year. If the Tar Heels can get significant improvement from everyone on the roster then this upcoming season could be a very special one, even if the Tar Heels do not land Andrew Wiggins. If significant improvement does not occur, then the Heels might be looking at a season similar to that of 2012-2013. Hard work pays off, and when it pays off for the Tar Heels, watch out.

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Tags: Brice Johnson James Michael McAdoo Joel James JP Tokoto Marcus Paige North Carolina Tar Heels PJ Hairston

  • http://twitter.com/ChillerN8 N8

    Joel James out of shape?!? The same Joel James that dropped 40 pounds before arriving on campus. Kid has a lot to learn about basketball, but it is stupid to question his conditioning. He is made out of solid rock!

    • Goheels

      I agree. After he shed the weight, he added on about 20 lb of muscle apparently, and I think he looks like he’s in great shape. He’s a man child – he’ll be a total beast once he gets a better basketball IQ and game experience. He’s going to be fun to watch. Remember, this past year was just his 4th playing organized basketball.

    • Ahhines

      Roy stated during the middle of the season that Joel and Brice were not in proper shape and that’s why their minutes declined.

  • Derek Ball

    traditional hoop is 2 guards, 2 forwards and a center!

  • ROBERT STEPHENS

    I don’t feel jjames was out of shape; it’s been well documented he’s only been playing organized ball since what; 10th or 11th grade, & he, dhubert, and jmmcadoo all need to work with Rasheed! jjames has ROCKS for hands; he needs to see the ball coming to him, & catch the ball in before he makes his move; same can be said for jmm! you are soooo right that leslie mcdonald has to become a much, much, better all around player period! he’s now going to be the senior player on the squad; he can’t just hit a three, & run back down looking pretty. he’s got to get dirty, and by that i mean: HUSTLE PLAYS, floor burns, driving to the basket, playin real DEFENSE; you know: SHOW LEADERSHIP! folks, I feel the true keys to the season will be marcus paiges’ continuing upwards development, & BRICE JOHNSON, ISAIAH HICKS, & P.J. HAIRSTON. all 3 will be counted on to play against the big boys, & i believe with Andrew Wiggins in tow; we’ll be NCAA CHAMPIONS, this year; GO HEELS!!!!!!!!

    • Ahhines

      Agreed with you here Robert. That’s why I named the article “Summer Improvement.” it will be vital to next season and I believe it is the key to next season. If we can get significant improvement from our guys, which is highly possible, we would not need wiggins. But it would very nice to have him,