With NBA defections, UNC ready to go guard-heavy
North Carolina is going from attacking inside with several
scoring options to focusing its attention on the perimeter.
The Tar Heels lost senior 7-footer Tyler Zeller and a pair of
early NBA draft entrees in Harrison Barnes and John Henson off
their front line. That leaves sophomore forward James Michael
McAdoo as the veteran up front for a team that returns four
experienced guards, though two are returning from serious knee
”If they make shots, I’m going to be excited about it,”
Williams said Thursday afternoon at his annual offseason news
conference. ”You’ve got to have some kind of inside threat.”
The Tar Heels should have some of that with McAdoo, a 6-foot-9
forward who played so well late in the year after Henson’s wrist
injury that he even flirted with entering the NBA draft. Now it’s
his turn in the forefront.
”I feel like I’m ready for it,” McAdoo said. ”I feel like
being a leader is something I’m good at, something I did all
through high school, something I’m excited about. … I feel like
I’m more than ready and capable of doing that.”
But there’s no other proven options to put alongside him.
Desmond Hubert offers some size but played about five minutes per
game as a freshman. The Tar Heels are bringing in a recruiting
class that includes center Joel James (6-10, 270 pounds) and
forward Brice Johnson, who at 6-9 and 190 pounds has a lean frame
similar to Henson when he first arrived here in 2009.
With that inexperience inside, it could mean plenty of shots for
guys like Reggie Bullock, Leslie McDonald and P.J. Hairston on the
”I think it will be a little bit of a change,” said Bullock,
who thrived as a starter after Dexter Strickland went down with a
knee injury in January. ”It’s going to be more of a guard-oriented
team. We’re going to be quicker on the ball, guarding,
defensive-wise. We just need for players to be able to knock down
shots for us this year.”
McDonald’s return should help in that area. Williams said the
junior – one of the team’s best outside shooters in 2010-11 – has
fully recovered from a right knee injury that sidelined him all of
Williams said Strickland has been cleared for light work such as
jumping, shooting and some running. He said he hopes the team’s top
perimeter defender is fully cleared for workouts by August.
With point guard Kendall Marshall also leaving for the NBA
draft, the team would also likely offer significant minutes to
rookie point guard Marcus Paige. The Iowa native is recovering from
a foot injury in the spring that required surgery.
Williams said Paige’s recovery has gone well.
”There’s no question we’re going to ask him to do a lot,”