UNC Basketball: Five Big Predictions for 2012-2013


The importance of this year for UNC Basketball, both on and off the court, cannot be stressed enough.  With what many are deeming a three way race for the ACC crown (between UNC, Duke, and NC State) as well as a highly competitive non-conference schedule that features pre-season #1 Indiana University, the young, new look Tar Heels face a challenging year ahead of them.  That being said, it’s also a huge year off the court as well.  Coach Roy Williams will have to bring his A game to recruiting this year as the Tar Heels will likely lose sophomore James Michael McAdoo to the NBA draft next April, leaving a void of “super star” caliber players in the UNC roster.  Because of all the pressure surrounding the Tar Heels this year, it’s hard to predict what will happen with any certainty.  That being said, here are five calls I’m willing to go out on a limb on…

  1. James Michael McAdoo will develop into the star player that he was considered to be when he committed to Carolina in 2011.
    Last season, McAdoo showed glimpses of his bright future during tournament play, but was largely quiet for the year as a whole.  That being said, with the departure of big men Tyler Zeller and John Henson to the NBA draft, McAdoo will have no better opportunity to display his athletic prowess and ever increasing ability to score next year in an ACC largely devoid of star big men (with Rodney Purvisfrom NCSU being one possible exception).   If McAdoo does come back stronger than he was this year and delivers what he was scoring in the NCAA tournament every game, look for ACC Player of the Year Honors, as well as a top-4 selection in the NBA draft next year.
  • Leslie McDonald will become the preeminent 3 point shooter that UNC has lacked in the past several years.
    Before his knee injury last summer, there were rumblings around UNC’s campus that indicated that McDonald was by far the most improved player returning from the 2010-2011 team–more so than Zeller, Henson, and Harrison Barnes.  If any of that is true, with Leslie being even more driven to improve during a medical redshirt off year, look for him to light up the basket from far range this upcoming season.  It is highly likely that McDonald will become UNC’s go to shooter this season and help UNC make another potentially deep run in the NCAA tourney.
  • UNC will have a top 3 recruit class featuring not only Isiah Hicks and Nate Britt but also Julius Randle and Nick King/Kennedy Meeks.
    As much as I wish or dream it were possible, Jabari Parker isn’t landing at UNC.  I truly wish that were the case but all signs point to no.  Right now, as a Tar Heel fan, the best bet is to hope that he doesn’t land at Duke or Kentucky.  That being said, UNC is the favorite right now with Julius Randle, who has mentioned how great a job Roy Williams is doing to recruit him and how much he likes UNC.  You don’t mention one school in particular during an interview unless you’re leaning that way.  I think Randle will commit right before fall this year.  He’d be the super star that UNC will miss with the departure of James Michael McAdoo and will energize the fan base.  UNC will likely draw one more big recruit, and I believe it will be Nick King or Kennedy Meeks. My money is on King but I think regardless, if UNC gets Randle (and I think he is UNC’s to lose at this point), they have the top recruit class in the nation.
  • The 2012-2013 UNC Basketball team will make it past the Sweet 16 but will fail to make the Final 4.
    Call me a pessimist, but I’m not getting my hopes up for this particular team.  They’re largely new, they haven’t played together much, and I think that there will be an adjustment period from playing two big men with fewer wings to one big man with more wings.  We’ll play well enough, but we don’t have the experience or the star power to make a deep run unless JMM turns into a National Player of the Year candidate and Nate Britt is the second coming of Kendall Marshall with Ty Lawson’s speed.  It’s not happening.  If you’re looking for a title run, hold your breath till 2013-2014.
  • Duke will finish 3rd in the ACC.
    I mentioned earlier that many analysts see the ACC as a three way race.  I don’t.  Duke doesn’t have the star power and relying on Rasheed Sulaimon to drain 3 after 3 will backfire on them.  Subtract one of the Plumlees and add one with no experience and put the “senior leadership” burden on Ryan Kelly? Hah. This team isn’t going anywhere.  The ACC is up for grabs between the Wolf Pack and the Tar Heels, a nice change over previous years. At least we won’t be competing with our biggest rival for the crown this time.