The Time is Now for North Carolina's James Michael McAdoo

By Jeff Kelly
JD Mercer – USA TODAY Sports

When you’re a basketball player and you’re related to Bob McAdoo, pressure is going to be pretty high. After all, you’ve got to live up to the legacy of one of the top power forwards in basketball history, and this is a fact that will be brought up each and every time you find yourself playing on television.

It seems to be a rule of sports broadcasts that if a player is related to someone famous, it has to be mentioned approximately once every 13.4 seconds. Speaking of, did you know that Kevin Love is related to one of the Beach Boys?

James Michael McAdoo of the University of North Carolina has had to deal with this pressure since his prep days, when he was a consensus top-10 national recruit and a McDonald’s All-America selection. He seemed to be all set to live up to the hype, too, sporting a seemingly NBA-ready body, the kind of basketball smarts you’d expect from someone of his lineage, and a solid all around game to match.

Physically, he was always ready to play at the NCAA Division I level, but he kind of struggled coming out of the gate as a freshman. Indeed, he came off the bench and averaged just 6.1 points and 3.9 rebounds. That wasn’t exactly what people were expecting from one of the top impact freshmen in the nation.

He had a bit of a coming out party in the national tournament that season, shooting 56.3 percent from the field in four games and scoring 15 points in only 19 minutes against a tough Kansas squad.

The only reason he found himself in the starting lineup was due to an injured John Henson. Henson is a big, athletic post player who put up fairly respectable numbers in the 2012-13 season for the Milwaukee Bucks, but the fact that McAdoo needed him to sustain an injury to enter the starting lineup was a bit telling.

McAdoo’s sophomore season, based on scoring and rebound alone, appears to have been solid. He was a Second Team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection after averaging 14.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Those are fine numbers, particularly for a sophomore.

However, he was a power forward who shot just 44.5 percent from the field. That’s a decent number for a guard, but certainly not for a forward who does the bulk of his damage from 15 feet and in. Making matters worse were his free throw percentage of 57.8 percent and his team-high 96 turnovers, an average of 2.7 per game.

That is not exactly the type of efficiency or lack thereof, that you want to see from your supposed star player. It’s not like he was launching a bunch of 3-pointers to lower his shooting percentage either. In fact, he attempted only two all of last season. In other words, this was a post player who was struggling to make even half of his shots throughout the year.

It may not be fair to heap so much pressure on young players, and it’s more our fault — fans and media alike — to expect so much from McAdoo. Because again, putting up more than 14 points every night in the ACC is nothing to sneeze at. But if he is ever going to live up to his NBA Lottery hype, the time is getting dangerously close to being now or never for McAdoo.

He’s certainly got the overall talent to become the player we all thought he could be. It’s just a matter of whether he can finally put it all together, or simply turn into yet another victim of undeserved buzz.

Jeff is an ACC basketball writer on  Follow him on Twitter @jekelish and “Like” him on Facebook.x

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