Roy Williams and the North Carolina Tar Heels landed a gem when James Michael McAdoo signed his letter of intent in 2010. A consensus top-10 recruit for 2011, scouts were raving over the young prospect from Norfolk, Va.
But the hype that followed McAdoo to Chapel Hill paled in comparison to that which superseded his freshman season at UNC. The heightened expectations proved to be too much for the sophomore to live up to, by little fault of his own.
Heading into his junior season, we decided it would be interesting to take a look back at what the scouts were saying about McAdoo prior to his arrival at UNC—and well before the media went overboard.
What we found is that their assessments were much more on point before the hype train arrived.
Ranked No. 6 nationally on the 2011 ESPN 100, McAdoo received an even amount of strength and weaknesses from ESPN's undisclosed scout. Here are a few comments that stood out to me from this analysis (subscription required):
He understands the games nuances and takes advantage of positioning and angles to make it look easy. He is an effort guy that disregards his high-profile reputation and just goes to work when the game begins.
He is also an active rebounder that gets to ball outside of his area and excellent shot-blocker and erases teammate's defensive errors.
Although he is rapidly improving his skills away from the basket, he is still a work in progress on the perimeter. He needs to develop more confidence in his ball handling and passing abilities when pressured away from the basket by a smaller/quicker defender.
Watching McAdoo over the past couple seasons, he certainly doesn't have a "me first" mentality. In fact, he appeared lost at times last season when he was expected to be the go-to guy on the floor, prior to the emergence of fellow 2011 commit P.J. Hairston.
Perhaps he is more comfortable being the sidekick than the superhero.
As I didn't cover the Tar Heels during his recruitment, what surprised me was the praise he received for his shot-blocking ability. His positioning, quickness and crafty nature have certainly paid dividends in the steal department, as he led the team with 1.5 per game last season.
The blocks, however, seem to be a rare occurrence thus far. He finished up his sophomore campaign with only 14. McAdoo seemed more interested in trying to draw charges last season than contest shots.
His shot-blocking ability wasn't made up, though. This mixtape shows clear evidence of his knack for swatting shots. Let's hope he brings that skill out of retirement.
Draft Express's Jonathan Givony was on the money when he said this about McAdoo:
He still needs to get tougher and more aggressive on [the defensive] end of the floor, though. He needs to show more of an edge and put his physical tools to good use as a rebounder and defender, something that will become easier as his frame continues to fill out.
Givony also offered excellent perspective on McAdoo's post game:
In the post, McAdoo shows nimble footwork and an array of hook shots, step-throughs and turnaround jumpers, but he still needs to work on becoming a better (and more willing) finisher through contact. He rarely forces the issue and shows a high basketball IQ, which is particularly evident in his ability to find open teammates.
Finishing through contact is something he still needs to work on. Despite his strong, chiseled frame, McAdoo still plays a little soft for the position. After a season of battling with the big boys, he should have a better understanding of how aggressive he needs to be.
It would also be nice to see those hook shots come back to life. And, hopefully, his teammates will alleviate the pressure that caused him to force up bad shots last season. Having a quality center join him in the post should make all the difference here.
Not to mention the return of leading scorer P.J. Hairston.
While all of these outlets gave solid assessments, nobody did better than Scout.com's Rob Harrington. I've always respected his work, but his high school analysis of McAdoo was spot-on. This is only a small excerpt from his thorough scouting report:
He can be pushed off the block and doesn’t always appear to have a clear idea of what move he wants to make. His ball-handling is OK for a big man and enables him to beat other bigs off the dribble from time to time, but he also can over-penetrate into turnovers and forced shots.
That was probably McAdoo's greatest deficiency last season. He wasn't very calculated with his scoring efforts.
That wasn't Harrington's best, though. Check this out:
Teams normally struggle to run their offensive sets as effectively during the NCAA Tournament, for example, and McAdoo’s ability to retrieve a rebound or create an easy basket with a steal could prove essential during March Madness.
Does that sound familiar to anyone else? That's exactly what he did in 2012, which ignited the media hype that offseason.
Harrington wasn't finished:
From Carolina’s perspective, McAdoo’s still-developing offensive game likely means he’ll need at least two seasons of college hoops before he can make the jump to the NBA. Yes, some NBA draft web sites project him as a high lottery pick in the 2012 draft, but my belief remains that he'll need more time than one year to reach that level of demand. While it’s likely he’ll enjoy a lengthy NBA career even if he doesn’t become a great scorer, there’s at least a chance he’ll spend an additional year or two longer in college than many expect.
That's pretty impressive. I knew Harrington was good, but I didn't realize he was the Miss Cleo of the scouting world.
The scouting reports from these three outlets varied in focal points and opinions to some extent. However, they all agreed upon one thing: James Michael McAdoo has a bright future at North Carolina and beyond, but development will be key.
His natural abilities are undeniable.
Now that he has a full season under his belt as a stater and expectations have leveled out, McAdoo is set up for success in 2013-14. Look for this to be a true breakout season for the junior power forward.
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