North Carolina Basketball: Predicting Tar Heels' Statistical Leaders for 2012
Not only did North Carolina lose Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Kendall Marshall to the 2012 NBA draft, but they also lost their statistical leaders in five categories. Looking ahead to the 2012-13 season, one has to wonder which Tar Heels will pick up the slack.
My answers just might surprise you.
Only in one category will the statistical leader of 2011-12 serve another term. One player will also greedily command three categories—and you will never guess who that player is.
The races will be astonishingly close this coming season. Minutes will be split up amongst the starters and the very deep bench Roy Williams has produced.
Between their similar skill sets and fairly even time on the floor, individual Tar Heels likely won't be taking over any categories on the national level. Team stats, however, may be another story. This is a very solid team that will shock many doubters—just not as individuals.
Without further introduction, it's time for me to break out the crystal ball and give you a look at the future ballers of Chapel Hill.
Points: Reggie Bullock
I don't see there being much distance between the points leaders, but I have a feeling Reggie Bullock will be at the top.
Last year, Bullock improved his three-point percentage by almost 10 percent, burying 38.2 percent of his attempts from downtown. His overall field-goal percentage also increased to 42.8 percent.
Now that he is making his shots more consistently, the growth in the rest of his game will have a huge impact on his average.
I saw a more active and energetic Reggie Bullock in 2011-12. He was making big plays in transition and showed a promising ability to split defenders and take it to the rim. Much more will be expected of Bullock with the loss of Harrison Barnes, so he is sure to develop a solid pull-up jumper to take into 2012-13.
Points will be spread out amongst the starters, not to mention the deep bench—especially at positions 1-3.
Rollin's Prediction: 15.9 PPG
Assists: Marcus Paige
I think this may be the toughest stat to argue—there is no reason Marcus Paige shouldn't lead the team in assists. I guess there is always the possibility of Dexter Strickland taking the starting job, but it's Paige's to lose. If Strickland starts, it will be at the 2.
The race will probably be closer than would would think, however. I don't see Paige coming in and putting up Marshall's assist numbers, so Strickland will likely be right on his heels. Dex will play point guard and shooting guard as needed, so he will pick up plenty of assists in that time.
Paige will also shoot much more than Marshall, which will also bring down his assists. In the end, you still have to give the edge to the starting point guard in a Roy Williams system.
Rollin's Prediction: 6.1 APG
Rebounds: Joel James
This statistical category wasn't too hard for myself. Some think Joel James won't be starting, but that is my prediction. Therefore, there is nobody on the squad that will shine glass more than James.
James Michael McAdoo will be within a couple rebounds, but I haven't seen great instinct or positioning by him yet. On the other hand, Joel James is a beast of a man. He positions himself very well and doesn't mind getting physical.
Rebounds will also be the main reason for Roy Williams to have him in the starting lineup. James isn't a big offensive threat (yet), so it will be all about using the biggest body on the squad to gain an advantage over UNC's opponents.
It will be a while before Joel James rounds himself into a dominant force in the paint, but rebounding and blocking shots is what he does. There isn't a John Henson (9.9 RPG) and Tyler Zeller (9.6 RPG) to split rebounds, so that will boost his average.
Rollin's Prediction: 12.3 RPG
Blocks: Joel James
I kind of gave this one away in the last slide, but again, there isn't really anyone that will compete with a starting Joel James in this category.
McAdoo hasn't proven himself a shot-blocker, though he could surprise me next year. He does have the athleticism, but he doesn't have the positioning yet. If Brice Johnson gets playing time at the 4 and the 5, as I suspect, he will be giving James a run for his money—having averaged seven blocks per game in his senior year of high school.
Likewise, so could Desmond Hubert. However, I feel Hubert will get lost on the bench, in favor of Johnson and James.
Rollin's Prediction: 2.2 BPG
Steals: James Michael McAdoo
There is no question about this category, as far as I'm concerned—I have to go with The Angler.
Nobody on the squad does a better job of luring his prey than James Michael McAdoo. He will sit back, just outside of the passing lane, waiting for someone to take the bait. As soon as they do, he pops out and takes it coast-to-coast.
Last season's leader was Dexter Strickland at 1.3 steals per game, followed closely by the guy everyone says can't play defense, Kendall Marshall, at 1.2. For the record, I'm not one of those people.
Playing only 15.6 minutes per game, McAdoo managed swipe 0.9 steals per game in 2011-12. When Henson went down, McAdoo's playing time went up, giving him more opportunity for steals. He made the best of that opportunity, picking up 2.1 steals per game over the last seven—and that was still in just 23 minutes per game.
Not only will James Michael McAdoo lead the team in steals, he might just lead the NCAA. To me, the following predicted average is actually conservative.
Rollin's Prediction: 2.4 SPG
Field-Goal Percentage: Joel James
Yeah, I said it—and I know it is blowing some minds right now. Before you lose control, please hear me out. There is actually a very good reason Joel James will have the highest field-goal percentage on the squad.
All James does is dunk the ball. And, correct me if I'm wrong, there is no higher-percentage shot in the game of basketball.
As I said before, James doesn't have much of an offensive game yet. He has only been playing basketball for three years—and is just getting accustomed to his new height and freshly-trimmed frame. He may come in with some newly-developed post move, but I don't expect him to take many shots outside of the paint.
In all honesty, I originally had Leslie McDonald here, but then I had an epiphany with the dunks. It only makes sense, to me.
Rollin's Prediction: 61.2 FG%
Three-Point Percentage: Leslie McDonald
The battle for the highest three-point percentage could be a very tight race—and that is something Tar Heel fans will be very pleased with. I'm giving the advantage to Leslie McDonald, though. With a gimpy knee, I doubt he's worked on anything more over the last year than his shooting.
Bullock actually out-did McDonald's best, by 0.1 percent last year, but that isn't quite enough to give him the edge.
P.J. Hairston is supposed to be a great shooter, so I expect him to show us just that next year. His 27.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc last year didn't give me a whole lot of faith that he will jump into the lead in 2012-13.
It could happen, though.
I still have to give it to Leslie McDonald, a pure shooter from day one. I think he is the best bet out of the group.
Rollin's Prediction: 41.3 3P%
Free-Throw Percentage: P.J. Hairston
Here is one spot P.J. Hairston didn't bust on the season. Hairston and Zeller were the only Tar Heels that shot over 80 percent from the charity stripe.
As a matter of fact, Hairston converted 83.9 percent of his freebies. I feel Bullock, McDonald and Paige will be the runners-up, but last year's stat sheet doesn't give me a lot of hope for the rest of the squad—and Paige is just a shot in the dark.
This just isn't a great free-throw shooting team.
Rollin's Prediction: 86.7 FT%
Minutes Per Game: James Michael McAdoo
Not that minutes per game is a stat many fans are worried about—but I've done all the others, so why not? Plus, minutes per game could be quite the battle, considering the depth of the 2012-13 Tar Heels.
Because of lack of quality depth at his position—and Brice Johnson covering both the 4 and the 5—I expect James Michael McAdoo will suck up the most minutes.
Barring any unforeseen injuries or extremely disappointing performances, McAdoo will also be headed to the NBA after this season. There isn't much Roy Williams can do about that, other than give him as many minutes and as much experience as possible.
He's also pretty handy to have on the court at all times, anyway.
With Strickland covering the 1 and 2 positions, I think he may have the second-most minutes. But I feel McAdoo will be the only player that will average over 30 minutes per game. The team is just that deep.
Rollin's Prediction: 31.6 MIN