James Michael Mcadoo seeks new path in NBA
That is the one emotion James Michael McAdoo says he’s been waiting to feel, maybe for the past three years at North Carolina but especially for the last few months.
Since April, McAdoo has heard everything — all the questions surrounding his decision to forgo his senior year to play at the next level.
But if his name is called in tonight’s NBA draft, McAdoo knows the criticism will no longer matter. He will finally be able to exhale.
“It’s going to be a relief. Honestly, after all these years, especially after these last couple weeks have just been crazy,” said McAdoo after a pre-draft workout with the Washington Wizards last Thursday. “You lay your head down at night and are just like, ‘Man. It’s coming.’’’
McAdoo shocked Chapel Hill, and perhaps the nation, April 3 when he announced he would leave school early to enter the NBA draft.
“I knew it was time,” McAdoo said. “I was ready to take the next step in my journey, no matter where I was projected, or what people were saying. Just for myself.”
But even more shocking may have been what he did the day before his draft announcement. On April 2, McAdoo went with his longtime girlfriend and UNC volleyball player Lauren Adkins to the Chapel Hill police station, where the couple got legally married by a justice of the peace.
McAdoo said he and Adkins did not tell many people about their plans to get married, except for their parents.
“It was something we thought about. It wasn’t anything crazy. I love her. It seemed like the right time. It was the right time,” McAdoo said. “We didn’t really tell anybody, but obviously Chapel Hill is such a small place, everyone finds out about everything after a while. The cat got out of the bag pretty quick.”
There was no doubt McAdoo’s two decisions were sudden and soon rumors began to surface. After the Wizards workout, he brought up the one thing he knew was on everyone’s mind, expelling it as a myth.
“Obviously, everyone thought Lauren was pregnant, which is crazy because if anyone knows me they know that I’m not that type of kid,” he said. “All this traveling I’ve done, there’s these horrible kids on the airplane and stuff. I’m just like, ‘There’s no way I’m having a kid any time soon.’ So no, she’s not pregnant.”
Within a matter of two days, McAdoo became both a married and working man. After choosing UNC over the NBA each of the last two seasons, he could not put his dream on hold any longer.
McAdoo ended his career with 1,232 points and 640 rebounds in 108 games as a Tar Heel.
“He’s been extremely important to North Carolina basketball...,” Coach Roy Williams said in a statement after McAdoo’s announcement. “We support him 100 percent in his decision, wish him nothing but the best in his professional career...”
Duke guard Andre Dawkins, a fellow Virginia native and longtime friend of McAdoo’s, also supported his decision, but said he was surprised McAdoo did not leave UNC earlier.
After his freshman season, McAdoo was a projected lottery pick. Now, he is speculated to be a late second-round pick as DraftExpress.com’s 74th-ranked prospect in the draft class.
“I thought, after his freshman year, he might have come out,” said Dawkins after participating in the Wizards workout with McAdoo. “But, to each his own. Every guy has to make his own decision, and he felt like that was the best decision for him and his family, and I wish him the best.”
McAdoo admits he cannot help but think about how his life would be different if he had entered the draft after his freshman year. But at the same time, he’s focused on now.
Within the last two months, he has participated in pre-draft workouts for 13 NBA teams. McAdoo is not too shy to say he did not specialize in any specific thing during his three-year career at UNC, and he said he knows that has to change for him to find a home in the NBA.
But through all the noise surrounding his development, marriage and early departure from UNC, McAdoo has been working and waiting.
He has been going to sleep every night thinking about tonight at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN, when his dream of playing in the NBA could be realized.
And with the sound of his name, he could at last take that sigh of relief.
“After my freshman year and I was like, ‘Dang, I’m good enough to play in the NBA.’ Then these last two years to now, I’m really having to fight my way into the league,” McAdoo said. “But I got two more years of my education, and I’m that much closer to getting my degree. I’m married and have no regrets about my time there.”
“At the end of the day, we’re here now. We’re in the present and I’m still living my dream.”
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