The North Carolina Tar Heels failed to live up to their annually massive expectations in 2012, earning an eight-seed in the NCAA Tourney and getting knocked out in the Round of the 32. The year came on the heels of back-to-back Elite Eight appearances, but the school has not really been in serious contention for the national title since winning it all in 2008-09.
It may sound unfair to place such intense expectations upon the Powder Blues, but that is exactly why prep superstars choose to play ball in Chapel Hill.
It is exactly why James Michael-McAdoo, Reggie Bullock and PJ Hairston are all returning for another year at UNC — well, that and the fact that all three received disappointing reports regarding their 2013 NBA Draft prospects, according to Busting Brackets.
A former McDonald’s All-American, Michael-McAdoo’s level of talent is easily worthy of a top 10-overall selection. However, while his play was solid as a first-year starter, it was lackluster at times. He averaged 14.4 points and 7.3 rebounds in 29.9 minutes per game over the course of the Heels’ 25-11 season.
Again, however, North Carolina players are held to a higher standard. Thus, McAdoo’s stock now rests at somewhere in the bottom of the first round.
Bullock was the team’s leading three-point shooter and was named to the All-ACC Second Team as a junior (McAdoo was also named to the conference Second Team). He recently witnessed the berth of his first child, and thus took a long, hard look at turning pro. However, his projected draft stock was as a second-round pick at best, and the only rookie contracts the NBA guarantees are first-round selections.
Hairston, like McAdoo, posted a scoring average above 14 points per game as a sophomore. At 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, Hairston’s stock is rising, but he was still far from a projected first-rounder.
Unlike recent trends, however, Hairston has chosen to continue to develop his game at the collegiate level, instead of taking a gamble and potentially ending up in Europe or the Developmental League.
The return of these three players should give coach Williams’ squad a real shot at reaching the Final Four once again, pure and simple.