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UNC Now is your place for Tar Heel sports. Beat writer Andrew Carter has up-to-the-minute news and analysis. Columnist Luke DeCock also contributes. Follow us on Twitter at @_andrewcarter or @accnow.

James Michael McAdoo returning to UNC: What it means

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The return of James Michael McAdoo will provide the Tar Heels with some experience in the frontcourt. PHOTO: Ethan Hyman

North Carolina received some disappointing – but not unexpected – news last week, when Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Kendall Marshall all announced they were leaving school to enter the NBA draft. Today, though, the Tar Heels received some good news.

James Michael McAdoo, the freshman forward, is coming back to school. Here’s the story.

Obviously, this is great news for UNC, which had already lost its four best players from a season ago (including Tyler Zeller, the senior who earned ACC Player of the Year honors). McAdoo’s return means that the Tar Heels will have back at least one proven frontcourt player. And that’s better than having no proven frontcourt players, which would have been the case had McAdoo left.

McAdoo arrived at UNC amid high expectations, but he struggled through the first half of his freshman season. But he began to emerge in late January, and then played a key role for the Tar Heels in March – especially when Henson sat out three games after suffering a left wrist injury during the ACC tournament.

McAdoo is likely to be the focal point of UNC’s offense during the 2012-13 season. As his freshman season progressed, he showed a consistent ability to make the medium-range jump shot, and to be an effective offensive rebounder. Some of best scoring opportunities came off of offensive rebounds. During the summer, McAdoo is most likely to spend his time working on his interior post-up game.

Here’s what McAdoo had to say about his decision. He released these comments in a statement from UNC:

“I’ve had several discussions about my future plans with my family and Coach [Roy] Williams and have decided to return to UNC to continue playing for the Tar Heels and continue my education. I love being at Carolina and really enjoy competing with and being around my teammates and am excited about what we can do together next season.

Every young basketball player wants to have as much information about his future and understand what others in the game think about him. It’s been interesting to learn the information that Coach Williams has gathered, but I am ready to continue as a Tar Heel.

“I’m enjoying my time in Chapel Hill and am excited about the future for my team and me.”

With McAdoo back, here’s a guess at what the Tar Heels’ starting five could look like at the start of the 2012-13 season:

PG: Marcus Paige, freshman
SG: Dexter Strickland, senior
SG/SF: Reggie Bullock, junior
SF/PF: James Michael McAdoo, sophomore
PF/C: Brice Johnson, freshman

Figure the first two players off the bench being shooting guards Leslie McDonald and P.J. Hairston, and add in freshman small forward J.P. Tokoto, and UNC still has the makings of a team that could compete for the ACC championship.

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UNC a contender now...

Strickland and McAdoo have started in the past. McDonald has played a good deal, and has postseason experience as well. Paige is a shooting/scoring PG that UNC needs to offset the points lost by the departure of their 4 guys going pro. Tokoto and Brice Johnson are sleeper type guys who will make a big spash even though the "experts" only have them as top 50 incoming players. Last season UNC was maybe the biggest NCAA team . This season they might be among the fastest. With Bullock and Hairston back they may also finally have enough outside shooting to really do well in the halfcourt game other teams want to force them to play. All in all they have at least 8 guys that have some combination of exceptional talent, speed, and experience to win a ton of games. This could be a season in which they play without the burden of high expectations, and be a fun team that wins big. We can hope. It has been said Roy Williams has to have the best team to win, but maybe next season he has the right combination for a team to play his style, which could be more important to winning his 3rd NCAA title. He likes his teams to run, and these guys seem ready to do that.

could easily be the best

could easily be the best prospect coming out of the ACC next season. The kid really matured in the last month. Huge strides. He is going to gobble up the ACC next season.

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About the blogger

Andrew Carter is the University of North Carolina beat writer for the News & Observer.
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