UNC Basketball: Impact of James Michael McAdoo’s Departure


Feb 20, 2014; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward James Michael McAdoo (43) dribbles in the second half. The Tar Heels defeated the Blue Devils 74-66 at Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

James Michael McAdoo is leaving UNC a year early. What does it mean for next year’s Tar Heels?

UNC announced on Thursday that star forward James Michael McAdoo will depart for the NBA and lose his final year of eligibility at UNC. McAdoo was a highly touted recruit who showed flashes of promise as a freshman and who never fully blossomed in his sophomore and junior seasons. McAdoo did average 14 and seven in his junior season at UNC and finished his career with over 1200 points and 600 rebounds for the Tar Heels.

McAdoo’s early departure has a huge shock wave effect on next season’s UNC Basketball squad. The 2014-15 Tar Heels will be without one of their most talented and experienced forwards, but McAdoo’s departure frees up some more playing time for younger options like Brice Johnson, Joel James and Isaiah Hicks. Here are some impacts of McAdoo’s early departure on next year’s Tar Heels team.

Brice Johnson gets an opportunity to shine

Brice Johnson was UNC’s best offensive big man last season, averaging 10 points and six rebounds in just 19 minutes a game last season. Johnson will get a lot more playing time next season, which will cause a significant increase in UNC’s offensive firepower.

Johnson’s per game offensive numbers are extremely impressive- per 40 minutes, he averaged 21 points and 12 rebounds last season. With McAdoo’s departure, the starting PF job will be Brice’s to lose. That means more minutes, shots and opportunities for the junior who should be much improved by the time Late Night with Roy rolls around in October.

Johnson starting may be great for the offense, but it presents some challenges on the defensive end. Brice is not know as a great defender, and he is especially weak guarding picks and rolls. Teams will try and draw him away from the basket with the pick and roll, so he needs to work this offseason on his footwork in preparation.

Johnson’s strength on defense is rim protection, as he averaged just over 2.5 blocks per 40 minutes last season. Roy has to make a decision of whether or not he can keep a big man combo of Johnson and Kennedy Meeks out of the floor for extended periods of time, or if he will be forced to play a defensive minded big man (Joel James, Desmond Hubert) with Johnson.

UNC will again be without a true senior leader

After McAdoo’s departure, UNC’s scholarship seniors for next season will be Luke Davis, Desmond Hubert and Jackson Simmons. While all of these guys play significant roles for the Tar Heels, none of them are in a position to be real leaders on the court for Carolina. All of UNC’s best teams had great senior leadership, from Jawad Williams on the 2005 team to Tyler Hansbrough on the 2009 team to Tyler Zeller on 2012’s squad. Marcus Paige should be able to fill the void, but McAdoo’s energy and leadership will be missed next season.

Intriguing big and small ball lineups

Looking at next year’s roster, there are a couple of interesting lineups that could be very effective for Roy Williams. More on the starting lineups in a later piece, but the starting five looks to be Britt, Paige, Tokoto, Johnson, Meeks. You could talk me into Berry at PG and Jackson at SF, but thats besides the point. After that, UNC has some potential super big and super small lineups that could really exploit the weaknesses of opposing teams.

Big Lineup
Point Guard: Marcus Paige- Paige leading the point is a great start to any lineup.
Shooting Guard: JP Tokoto- He would shut down opposing wings and attack the glass.
Small Forward: Isaiah Hicks- He played some small forward last season.
Power Forward: Brice Johnson- Instant Offense/Rim Protection
Center: Joel James- Rebounding plus maybe some improved offense for next year?

I really like that lineup. The biggest (no pun intended) problem with it is the lack of shooting, but stick Justin Jackson in Tokoto’s place and that problem is solved.

Small Lineup
Point Guard: Britt/Berry- Britt has experience, Berry is a better defender/higher upside.
Shooting Guard: Marcus Paige: Let him run wild off of screens.
Small Forward: Justin Jackson/JP Tokoto- Jackson for shooting, Tokoto for defense, rebounding.
PF: Isaiah Hicks- Remember, the kid had 34 points, 30 rebounds in high school championship.
Center: Kennedy Meeks- Feed him in the post and let him dish out to open shooters.

I like the small lineup too! Lots of options, too. Need shooting? Berry at PG, Jackson at SF, Johnson at C. Close out a game late? Britt at PG, Tokoto to defend at the 3, rebound-eater Joel James at the 5.

Scholarship for Stilman White?

This one is purely speculation, but Stilman White is done with his mission, UNC has an open scholarship now… could this mean the return of Stilman White! Lets make a fan favorite/Blue Steel lineup just for the heck of it with Stilman.

PG: Stilman White- He won’t contribute much with three PGs already on the team, but he can still be a fan favorite!
SG: Luke Davis- Got his shot this year, did not do much.
SF: Blue Steel Shooter- Not sure who this will be, but think Wade Moody 2.0.
PF: Jackson Simmons- Hustle! Energy! Passion!
Center: Desmond Hubert- He could still contribute as a rim protector next year as a senior.

I would love to see Stilman back in a UNC uniform, but we will see if it happens. Once again, this is purely speculative and I’m not sure we will ever get Stilman White back in UNC Blue. But anything could happen!