James Michael McAdoo Set to Have Breakout Season For North Carolina

By Anthony Lenahan
James Michael McAdoo
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

James Michael McAdoo has turned down the NBA twice to return to Chapel Hill. He is now ready to rebound from his disappointing season a year ago and have a breakout junior season for North Carolina.

As a freshman, McAdoo was a highly talented and up-and-coming star just waiting for his chance to shine in Carolina blue. With late-season injuries, McAdoo got a chance to play quality minutes as a freshman for the very talented Tar Heels. He made the most of his opportunity and played phenomenally in the postseason.

He decided to return for his sophomore season, passing up a chance to be a lottery pick in a draft where he would’ve joined four of his teammates. Instead, McAdoo wanted another shot at a national championship and returned to an extremely young and inexperienced lineup in which he was looked at to be the star and leader.

As it turned out, McAdoo was not ready to be the go-to player and become a college basketball star. He put up decent numbers, but you can’t let the numbers fool you if you’re a Carolina fan. McAdoo averaged 14.4 points per game, which was second on the team, and also grabbed a team-high 7.3 rebounds per game. His best talent on the court is his ability to anticipate passes and make the steal for easy baskets in transition. McAdoo led the team in steals with 54, and it’s an area where he will thrive at any level he plays.

Now you might ask — how did he have a disappointing year? The easiest way to put it is that he tried way too much to be a player he wasn’t. He shot just 44.5 percent from the field, which is atrocious for a post player. Not only did he take and miss bad shots, but he also turned the ball over a team-high 96 times.

Roy Williams felt his best chance to win last year was to go with a four-guard lineup. This forced McAdoo to play center, a position he was very uncomfortable with. With no true big man last year, McAdoo was forced to be that guy and he was not the right answer.

With the signings of Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks to go along with the return of Desmond Hubert and Joel James, McAdoo will not have to worry about playing center at all this season.  This will allow him to play in the power forward where he has played his whole life, and it’s in that role where he can perform at his best.

McAdoo will also not have to be the savior of this year’s team. Leslie McDonald and Marcus Paige are both returning with experience. P.J. Hairston thrived in the starting role last season and lead the team in scoring. He is back for his junior season, which is huge for McAdoo and the Heels. However, he is suspended indefinitely for his actions this offseason. But once he is back on the court, McAdoo will have another scoring threat to go along with himself.

James, Brice Johnson and Hubert are three big men returning with an offseason of getting better and a season of experience. To go along with a great group of freshman, Carolina has so much talent that McAdoo won’t have to be the hero of the squad and can just play his game.

He is going to be the focus of other teams, but he knows that his teammates can win games with him not having to do so much. McAdoo will have a great season this year, and so will the Heels. The kid has so much talent and athletic ability that it was a shame to see him perform the way he did last season. However, it will only be a learning experience and a season to look at as motivation for the junior forward.

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