For James Michael McAdoo, who has a history of doing things on his own terms, the timing was finally right.
Never one to be swayed by what others thought he should do, Mc-Adoo first defied conventional wisdom by staying at Norfolk Christian for his entire prep basketball career – despite warnings that he’d never reach his potential in a small private school league.
He became a McDonald’s All-American.
McAdoo defied the hoop pundits a second time following his freshman year at North Carolina, choosing to stay in school despite being projected as a potential NBA lottery pick.
On Thursday, McAdoo’s independent streak surfaced again. In a move not widely anticipated, he announced he’ll forgo his final season and enter the NBA draft.
In a statement released by North Carolina, McAdoo said he’s ready to play at the next level.
“I had chances to go after my freshman and sophomore years but was more excited about coming back to school then,” he said. “Right now I am excited about fulfilling my dream to play in the NBA and do what I have to do to take that next step.”
Attempts to reach Mc-Adoo and his parents, former Old Dominion players Ronnie and Janet McAdoo, were unsuccessful. Michael Allen, who coached McAdoo at Norfolk Christian, said he’s happy for his former player.
“I know he’s the type of kid that’s not going to make a hasty decision,” Allen said. “He’s going to pray about it, think about it, do what’s right for him.
“There was a lot of pressure on him to go after his freshman year when there was talk he’d be a lottery pick. He’s a grounded kid. Money, fame, that’s not important to him.”
The 6-foot-9, 230-pound McAdoo averaged 14.2 points and 6.8 rebounds, helping the Tar Heels go on a 12-game winning streak in ACC play before falling to Iowa State in the NCAA tournament’s third round. He was a second-team all-ACC pick as a sophomore and junior.
Still, McAdoo never developed into the dominant player many projected, given his physical tools and polish coming out of high school. Perhaps critics’ biggest knock is that he often seemed content to blend in, rather than take a lead role.
His NBA stock cooled, leading many to believe he’d return for his senior year. McAdoo is projected as a second-round pick in several mock drafts.
In a statement, coach Roy Williams said supports Mc-Adoo’s decision “100 percent.”
“I am extremely happy for James Michael, but at the same time I am sad for me because I won’t get a chance to coach that youngster again,” Williams said. “He’s a wonderful kid who has been a very dependable player and one of the top players in the ACC the past two seasons.”
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