The North Carolina Tar Heels sent out a firm message Monday night in their opening game of the Maui Invitational Tournament, blowing Mississippi State off of the beautiful island of Hawaii by the score of 95-49. As the Heels drilled 3′s and ran all over the Bulldogs, one thing was bizarre, they were doing it with minimal input from sophomore forward James Michael McAdoo.
Let’s get one thing straight, this season’s version of the Roy William’s UNC show will only go as far as McAdoo takes them, and so far, so great. Coming into Monday, McAdoo was averaging 21 points and 11.3 rebounds per game in Carolina’s 3-0 (now 4-0) start.
As scary as it is that UNC is looking so good when this was expected to be a down season for the program that’s won two of the last eight National Championships, it’s even more scary that their star player seems to be able to excel from many areas of the floor, with an incredibly well-rounded game. Alright, if that’s not scary, wait until he dunks all over you.
McAdoo has displayed an uncanny ability to outrough his defenders in the post, but also blow by them on his way to the basket, and even knock down mid to short-range jumpers. The problem is, he’s both deceptively quick and deceptively strong, with a jumper that you just can’t give him.
As much as I hate to say it, McAdoo looks a lot like Blake Griffin (game-wise, not looks-wise), who everyone could tell was special as a freshman, but broke out during his sophomore year to the tune of 22 points and 14 rebounds per game. McAdoo is a similar type of player, who used his freshman season to really learn and improve, and is using his superior body and fantastic instincts to dominate opponents as a sophomore.
Much like Griffin on the 2008-09 Oklahoma team, McAdoo is surrounded by a lot of better than average guards, who won’t shoot lights out the way they did Monday – UNC shot 15-32 from down town, they were 17-53 heading into the game – but will feel empowered to play their games knowing they have one of the best big men in the game cleaning up their misses, and drawing away double, maybe even triple-teams to get them better looks.
I know it’s still early to compare McAdoo’s season to one of the greatest seasons in the last couple of decades that the sport has seen, but McAdoo is a freak athlete with an old-school game, who makes everything look incredibly easy.
Hopefully he doesn’t end up doing stupid Kia commercials.
For hoops, hip-hop and other random sports and pop culture commentary, follow Jared Mintz on Twitter @JaredMintzTruth