Assuming James Michael McAdoo doesn’t declare for the draft, the Tar Heels will be able to return the majority of this season’s roster. Dexter Strickland will retire as a senior, which will be the team’s only significant loss. P.J. Hairston and Reggie Bullock have no reason to declare early for the draft, allowing the trio that pushed North Carolina into the ACC Tournament Finals to return for another year.
McAdoo started the season as potential top-five pick in this June’s draft, however, an inconsistent sophomore season has seen his draft stock fall to a fringe lottery player at-best. If McAdoo returns to play out his junior year, he could learn to polish his offensive game, learn to tighten up his defense and allow more time to grow into his body. The benefits for McAdoo to return are obvious, but the paycheck the pro-level provides is often a temptation too great to turn down.
Should McAdoo return, the Tar Heels will return the trio that began to click late in the season and looked very dangerous heading into the NCAA Tournament. North Carolina competed hard and fell to the more experienced Jayhawks. However, another year under the trio’s belt could turn them into legitimate national title contenders.
The Tar Heels will also be returning their leading playmaker in freshman Marcus Paige. The first-year guard recorded close to a 2-to-1 assist to turnover ratio playing in the starting line-up for North Carolina. Paige had an up and down start to his college career but proved by the end of the year he is more than capable of running the Tar Heels’ offense.
McAdoo, Hairston and Bullock showed they’ve each become legitimate double-double threats as college players. A more experienced trio would provide an athletic, experienced front court few teams would be able to match-up against. Combine Paige’s ability to feed all three the ball in the post, let alone on the fast break, and North Carolina will have all the necessities required for another championship season.
The potential is there, all that matters now is the decision to stay in school.