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James Michael McAdoo embraces new leadership role at UNC

Former American Family Insurance ALL-USA selection worked out with Tar Heel greats this summer



James Michael McAdoo starred at Norfolk (Va.) Christian before heading to UNC. / USA TODAY Sports

Today, we catch up with 2011 American Family Insurance ALL-USA basketball player James Michael McAdoo of Norfolk (Va.) Christian, who is a junior forward at North Carolina. For more than 30 years, USA TODAY has recognized the nation's top high school athletes. We are digging into the archives and checking in with ALL-USA honorees from the past three decades.



Of all the first-team players on the 2011 ALL-USA boys basketball team, James Michael McAdoo is the only one not in the NBA. If McAdoo, who will be a junior this season at North Carolina, feels as if he's missing out by not getting paid to play, he doesn't show it.

"As far as staying in college, that wasn't that big a decision," he said. "My family and I talked about it and prayed about it. I think it came down to where I felt best and felt more comfortable. The NBA is probably a great opportunity for most, but I definitely love my time at North Carolina."

The 6-9 forward averaged 14.4 points and led the Tar Heels with an average of 7.3 rebounds a game. He's listed as a middle to late first-round pick in 2014 mock NBA drafts. Naturally laid-back, he said he knows he needs to take charge more this season.

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"A lot of times, I like to be more reserved instead of taking over a game and showing what I'm capable of doing," McAdoo said. "I always let the game come to me and didn't force it, but that's something that I'm trying to learn to do."

McAdoo's shooting percentage was 44.5% last season, low for a starting post player who only attempted two three-pointers all season.

"It was the craziest summer I've had," McAdoo said. "I was just working out and recovering from my back injury. Each and every day, I was putting up between 500 to 700 made shots. Some days, the shot is not on, but by the beginning of practice this season, I could see a tremendous change in my shot."

North Carolina coach Roy Williams said that McAdoo has focused on improving certain areas of his game that were deficient.

"James Michael, from the Kansas game to June, mid-June, he didn't play a single pickup game," Williams said in September. "But he really did a nice job in the weight room and really worked hard on his body and he looks great. I think there has been a very good concentration and devotion to the things we talked about in the spring. I think that James Michael feels that the summer has been a very good summer for him."

Once a bulging disc in McAdoo's back was less of a problem, he scrimmaged frequently with former Tar Heels: Tyler Hansbrough of the Toronto Raptors; Sean May and Jawad Williams, who played professionally last winter in France; and with Marvin Williams of the Utah Jazz.

"I spent a lot of time working out with some of the guys who came here," McAdoo said. "It's something I wish I could have taken advantage more of before. I was able to learn and be a student of those guys. They've been in Coach Roy's system, so they know what the coach expects. But the No. 1 thing I've gotten from the guys who have played in the NBA is just to enjoy my experience here in college. My freshman year, I was not that excited to be here. When I first got to college, I was really shy. I didn't say a word. Now I meet five new people each day."

He also finds that there's plenty of people in Chapel Hill who are willing to give him basketball advice, not all of it welcome.

"Basketball is part of the culture here," he said. "Everybody will talk to you and has an opinion about the team, from your professors to people taking your order in restaurants, even the homeless guys on the street are giving you their two cents' worth. They all know the history and legacy behind North Carolina basketball."

McAdoo said Williams and others are looking for him to be more of a leader.

"I think not only myself but my coaching staff will see a better James Michael," McAdoo said. "I think the biggest thing is trying to be a leader. Last year, it was something new to me. Now, it's something that I already have embraced."

 

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