There's a lesson to be learned for all college underclassmen looking to declare for the NBA draft early. Making it to the NBA is difficult, and the road is not as easily paved as some highly touted college prospects might think.
James Michael McAdoo of North Carolina learned that lesson the hard way.
McAdoo came to the Tar Heels as an emerging star with hopes of being a lottery pick in the NBA draft after his career in Chapel Hill. Those ambitions fell well short on Thursday night, as the two-time second-team All-ACC player fell out of both rounds and is now simply looking to crack a roster.
Bret Strelow of the Fayetteville Observer offered his advice to any players hoping to avoid McAdoo's path:
So maybe that's the next option for McAdoo. If he doesn't make an NBA roster after this summer, maybe he just packs it up and looks to play overseas.
Before he makes any brash decisions, he might want to consider a list of players who also went undrafted and went on to have successful careers in the NBA. Names like Bruce Bowen, John Starks and even Avery Johnson rose to stardom in the league thanks to hard work and dedication.
Will he ever find that same rise to the NBA as very few before him have? Maybe, but before he can ever reach that level, NBA consultant Chris Ekstrand breaks down where McAdoo needs to improve, per Ed Miller of The Virginian-Pilot:
"There's talent there, there's the ability to achieve at the highest levels, at least of college basketball," Ekstrand said. "Why he didn't do that consistently is sort of an open question."
Chris Moore of the ACC Sports Journal and Brooke Pryor of Carolina Blue Magazine, two writers who followed McAdoo throughout his tenure in Chapel Hill, provide their thoughts on the former Tar Heel:
Maybe it was the timing of his decision—would he have been selected last season? Or perhaps it was the fact that he still needed to prove more to have his name called in the draft.
Following his freshman year, there were still talks about untapped talent that scouts hadn't seen from McAdoo and what he could eventually be at the next level. But with McAdoo staying at UNC for another season, those questions were still being asked as he failed to shine for the Heels.
The 21-year-old noted the change between his first season and when he decided to leave UNC, via Aaron Dodson of the Daily Tar Heel:
After my freshman year and I was like, ‘Dang, I’m good enough to play in the NBA.’ Then these last two years to now, I’m really having to fight my way into the league. But I got two more years of my education, and I’m that much closer to getting my degree. I’m married and have no regrets about my time there.
At the end of the day, we’re here now. We’re in the present and I’m still living my dream.
What McAdoo has to do now is prove himself through the summer league and potentially D-League. Talent can only get a player so far, but he has enough to turn some heads in the next several months and eventually win scouts over.
Simply put, McAdoo has shown the ability to crack an NBA roster, but fell short during his collegiate career. Despite averaging over 14 points and 6.8 rebounds per game during his final two seasons with the Heels, he ultimately didn't show enough to convince NBA scouts that he was worthy of a draft pick.
Whatever it was, McAdoo is now simply left searching for a team after leaving UNC early. For the rest of college basketball players planning to do the same, consider this a lesson learned.
Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.