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UNC Basketball: 4 Signs James Michael McAdoo Is a Future Tar Heels Star

Rollin YeattsSenior Analyst IIOctober 7, 2016

UNC Basketball: 4 Signs James Michael McAdoo Is a Future Tar Heels Star

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    Many fans and analysts are looking at James Michael McAdoo to be the centerpiece of the 2012-13 North Carolina Tar Heels. If that's the case, we better start looking for signs of him living up to the hype that has followed him to the Chapel Hill campus.

    Before we even dive into the subject of his potential greatness, I must tell you that I am not completely sold on McAdoo. I spent most of the season without even being semi-impressed with his game.

    Then came John Henson's wrist injury.

    McAdoo truly stepped up his game when UNC needed it the most. From that point on, I started to become much more impressed with the game of one James Michael McAdoo.

    Were the numbers he put up over the last seven games good? Absolutely, considering what he did over a span of 23 minutes per game.

    Were they good enough to convince me he is the next big star to come out of Chapel Hill? Absolutely not.

    I can't get over how much he was blocked in the low post. As a matter of fact, he didn't show me much of anything in the post. That needs to change. He desperately needs to develop some moves in the offseason.

    Alas, I am not here to bash McAdoo. It's actually quite the opposite. But I felt I should lay down a little foundation to let you know that I'm not telling you he is a guaranteed star next year.

    The best I can do is give you a few of the signs that lead me to believe he could be a future Tar Heels star—for at least one year.


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    Given the amount of time we have actually seen McAdoo perform anywhere close to his hype, we can only speculate how much his game will develop. One thing that won't change and we cannot question is his athleticism.

    McAdoo doesn't have the speed of Ty Lawson or the flair of Michael Jordan and Vince Carter, but he will get down the court with his long strides and throw down an emphatic dunk or three through the course of a game.

    He also switches directions well and has a nice quick burst with his first step—especially on the defensive side of the ball.

    What McAdoo lacks in development at this time is made up for with athleticism and a nose for the ball.


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    In McAdoo's last seven games, he averaged 2.1 steals over 23 minutes per game. Mind you, those were highly competitive ACC and NCAA tournament games we are talking about here, folks.

    Like an anglerfish of the hardwood, McAdoo baits his prey on the defensive side of the ball. He has a great feel for where the ball is going and sits back, just outside of the passing lane, to jump the pass and take it coast-to-coast.

    I wouldn't be surprised to see The Angler break Dudley Bradley's UNC season record of 97 steals next year. Lawson was great at steals because he was so quick. But I'm not sure if I've seen a Tar Heel read it better than McAdoo.

    Over those seven games, he also picked up five blocks. That hardly makes up for the loss of John Henson on the stat sheet, but we may also see more blocks come from the 5 next season.

    If there is anything we learned about McAdoo in his freshman campaign, it's that the kid can play some defense. There is still much development to be made, but he has the pieces to become a great defender.


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    After losing Tyler Zeller, McAdoo will have to fill the role of the big that gets down the court on fast breaks. From what I have witnessed so far, he should have no problem filling the void Z left behind.

    Because he likes to bait, he snags most of his steals on the run and has no problem taking it coast-to-coast to the rack. If he can develop that sense of when to slip out and get down the court for the home run ball, North Carolina's transition game will shine as bright as it has since Roy Williams took the reins.

    I'm not too sure of his ability as a passer in the open court, but he and Reggie Bullock will be counted on as Carolina's top finishers in transition.


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    When I was looking over some of Carolina's last games to focus on McAdoo, I noticed how active he is off the ball. Whether he's on defense or offense, McAdoo is constantly moving. That's refreshing to see, since one of my gripes about the last crew is that there wasn't enough off-the-ball movement.

    Even I can guard Michael Jordan's statue.

    What makes a team successful in the halfcourt is ball movement and off-the-ball movement. When everyone is just standing around, nobody is open and you can't move the ball around to create an open shot. It's just ugly.

    McAdoo will slip between defenders and jog in circles—whatever it takes for him to create open space. I won't call anyone out right now, but a few others I'd catch just camping out a spot and waiting for the ball. That's fine if the player is open, but when he isn't, said player needs to move his lazy butt.

    McAdoo is also very active on the glass and I see him constantly fighting for position. He may not be an angry kind of aggressive, but he doesn't mind getting physical either.

    The Force is strong in this young McAdoo. Will he end up a legend, like his distant relative Bob McAdoo? My signs point to “yes,” but it's up to James Michael McAdoo to make himself the best.

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