James Michael McAdoo has faced his fair share of criticism since breaking out his freshman year only to disappoint many in his sophomore season. McAdoo started his junior season looking more and more like a player willing to step up, make big shots and be an offensive force.
McAdoo, just like North Carolina, slipped off for a bit of time during the middle of non-conference play and his demeanor no longer looked like that of someone poised to lead a team. McAdoo struggled at the line, was shooting below 40 percent at the forward slot and played lazy defense.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, McAdoo looked and played better. He was commanding the ball in the post, making dazzling moves to get to the basket and played disruptive and tenacious defense. All of this has come in his last seven games where he has averaged 16.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.8 steals.
All of this has translated to North Carolina going from a team that lost to Belmont, UAB and Texas, to a team that not only is a top-tier ACC school, but one that has to be in the discussion for a conference crown and possibly an NCAA Final Four appearance.
McAdoo is so key because Carolina — despite having size inside — does not have as many consistent offensive skill players in the post as many other Tar Heels teams had in the past. McAdoo is not a threat from deep and does not need to be. Guard Marcus Paige can take over from the perimeter and open up the floor for McAdoo. This clearance allows McAdoo to only see single coverage a majority of the time. Even if he is double-teamed, he is quicker than most post players and can slither his way to the basket. Even in Carolina’s loss to Wake Forest, McAdoo led the team in scoring and grabbed eight rebounds.
McAdoo may not be the highlight-stealing star many hoped and predicted he would be after his freshman year, but he now looks like a player comfortable with how he plays and what he can do. If he can stay this consistent from here on out, North Carolina can go as far as any other team in the country.
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