UNC vs. Kansas: Baby Heels Weren't Ready for Big Stage, Need to Stay in School
North Carolina sophomore James Michael McAdoo sat in front of his locker on Sunday night and was asked whether he had decided if he'll be headed to the NBA. Minutes earlier, sophomore P.J. Hairston was asked the same question.
Both mumbled that they hadn't decided yet.
Should they even have to?
What took place in the two hours before should have told them everything they need to know about their readiness for the NBA. The baby Heels got beat by men from Kansas, 70-58.
They aren't ready for the NBA, and they weren't ready for this stage. But this is where we are in college basketball.
McAdoo is predicted to go 21st in the draft by NBADraft.net and will probably head to an NBA bench near you. Hairston is No. 71 on NBADraft.net's big board, so he'll likely stay in school unless he gets some bad advice, and it's out there somewhere.
Here's some good advice for both, and Reggie Bullock too if he's contemplating leaving: Stay in school.
That's what Kansas center Jeff Withey did.
Withey—you know, the guy who dominated Sunday's game. The guy who went from benchwarmer at Kansas to the best defensive big man in the country.
Withey had 16 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks against the Tar Heels.
"It seemed to me like a lot more than five blocks," Self said.
It did because Withey's defense dominated the game and McAdoo. The sophomore from UNC went 5-of-19.
Bullock, guarded by fifth-year senior Travis Releford, went 1-of-7 and scored five points. Hairston, guarded by fifth-year senior Kevin Young, scored 15 points, but needed 17 shots to get there.
When the layups weren't falling early for the Jayhawks, they just kept playing defense and kept attacking.
"After the game settled down, I thought we got pretty good," Self said. "Of course, the seniors were the huge reason why."
When the layups and threes started falling in the second half and the Jayhawks went on a 33-8 run to obliterate a nine-point halftime lead, the Heels crumbled away.
"I think you should be able to maintain that intensity for 40 minutes," Roy Williams said, "but we were not able to do it."
What might have helped was a veteran point guard to get the Heels some good shots and calm them down. Instead, their veteran point guard, Kendall Marshall, is averaging 2.6 and 2.1 points per game for the Phoenix Suns.
It would have helped if UNC had shot-blocker John Henson making life miserable for KU's guards when they got to the paint, a la Withey. Instead, Henson is playing 11.8 minutes per game for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Sounds like a blast, doesn't it? And those guys were "ready."
Without Henson around this season, Williams was forced against his preference to go small in February, inserting Hairston into the lineup.
That worked against most of the ACC, except the Heels couldn't beat the men from Duke or the men from Miami.
Should James Michael McAdoo return for his junior season?
Next year, the Heels might be able to win some of those games if McAdoo, Hairston and Bullock stick around, grow up and the Heels mature as a team. Their talent with some seasoning is good enough to get to the Final Four.
That's where the Jayhawks are trying to get back to, and it wouldn't be possible without Withey.
Withey, like McAdoo, sat in front of his locker almost a year ago after losing to Kentucky in New Orleans and the big man had tears in his eyes. He was also asked about the NBA. He could have been paid after the tournament he had.
Withey said he was coming back to school.
He did. And he's still going to have his payday. KU's four seniors' shot at a title is still alive, too.
Sounds like a lot more fun than sitting on an NBA bench.
*All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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