UNC Basketball: Improvement still in Joel James future


When North Carolina lost their inside presence in the form of Tyler Zeller and John Henson last season, it was difficult to picture the Tar Heels dominating inside quickly again. Sure they returned sophomore sensation James Michael McAdoo, but Roy Williams didn’t have a plan for who would take over down low.

Nov 11, 2012 Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Joel James (0) dunks against the Florida Atlantic Owls in the second half at the Dean E. Smith Center. North Carolina won 80-56. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-US PRESSWiRE

In steps freshman center Joel James.

James worked in the off-season to slim down and build muscle, and so far it’s working for the Tar Heels. The 6-foot-10 270 pound center has been an early surprise for the Tar Heels on the glass. James gives Carolina  a big body down low who can defend well, and rebound even better.

He hasn’t had an incredible impact to be nationally known just yet, but the potential for James certainly has risen since he announced his signing with North Carolina.

The Tar Heels are looking at James to be their dominant post player of the future. A big bodied center who can clear out the lane, and snag an offensive rebound for a second chance on the offensive side of the ball. And while he’s working on his offensive game, the defensive game is coming into place as well.

James didn’t play organized basketball until his sophomore year in high school. He’s lost about 60 pounds of weight, while putting 10 more pounds of muscle on to prepare for the current season.

What James brings to the Tar Heels is a physical presence down low. Something the Tar Heels feared they would lack since losing Zeller and Henson.

While James has a long way to go in being mentioned with some of the great dominating Carolina centers, the room for improvement is there. Especially this season where the Tar Heels aren’t expected to be a favorite for the National Championship.

While James has the physical tools down low, scoring should be his focus of improvement going forward this season and into next season. Thats one of the reasons James hasn’t really seen a great amount of playing time to start this young season.

So far James is getting anywhere from 11 (his lowest) to 22 (his highest) minutes this season, but has impressed coaches and fellow players so far. He’s also created a stir among the Carolina faithful everywhere. He’s an interesting player who many think can become a dominating force down low for the Tar Heels in the future.

As his scoring numbers aren’t high, James will look to improve on that for the future. Playing with a team that features a lot of shooters, it might be tough for James to get looks here and there, but becoming a scoring threat could lead to more looks for the center.

The rebounding? That’s already there, but there is still room for improvement on that as well. James has impressed many people with his rebounding skills early on, but it’s certainly not at the level him or his teammates want.

With improvement and the want to improve, James could have a very successful career at Carolina. He could be one of the  many recruiting surprises Roy Williams has pulled off.

It’s just up to James to take it to the next level and dominate.