North Carolina featured four first round selections in last month’s NBA Draft, including big men Tyler Zeller and John Henson.
The two 7-footers anchored the Tar Heels down low in 2011-12, but now head coach Roy Williams faces the uncertainty of replacing them.
Despite their youth down low, North Carolina transitions into 2012-13 thanks in large part to James Michael McAdoo‘s decision to return to Chapel Hill.
The 6-foot-9 sophomore has high expectations and will immediately be expected to lead the team down low, not only in statistics, but also with a veteran presence.
McAdoo leads what will likely be a four-man rotation in the paint. Incoming freshman Joel James, who weighed in at 315 pounds just 18 months ago, has cut 50 pounds since and is beginning to look like an immediate contributor for Williams down low.
In addition, UNC also welcomes in 6-foot-9 freshman Brice Johnson, while sophomore Desmond Hubert could see an expanded role, as well.
Yet the Tar Heels remain guard-heavy looking forward to 2012-13. A good mix of returning talent and incoming freshman will look to help fill the early-entry losses of Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall.
Williams will likely rely heavily on McAdoo and their guard play, which leads many to believe that the emergence of James could be crucial.
The weight loss for James gives the 6-foot-10 forward the opportunity to thrive in Williams’ high-paced offense.
As a whole, Tobacco Road will once again offer the ACC’s top threats this upcoming season, but things are no longer limited to only North Carolina or Duke. N.C. State has grown up rapidly under head coach Mark Gottfried and is looking like an instant threat to capture the league’s crown in 2012-13.
Optimism remains high in Chapel Hill however, despite the loss of four starters to the NBA. The focus will be in the backcourt for UNC, but their low post threats can offer the stability that could once again propel the Tar Heels to the top of the Atlantic Coast.
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