It took a little longer than Elliot Cadeau hoped to finally feel ready.
Yet the moment came in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. After North Carolina beat Arkansas in The Bahamas, Cadeau dined with his family at a local restaurant.
“‘I know I belong here — this is it,’” Michelle Cadeau recalled her son telling her.
“I think he showed that today.”
In No. 17 North Carolina’s 100-92 victory over No. 10 Tennessee, Cadeau had 10 assists and zero turnovers — the first Tar Heel to have both in a game since Marcus Paige in 2015 — in his first home start. Cadeau’s ball movement led the way for an astounding 61-point first-half performance, as North Carolina became the first team to score 60 points in a half against Tennessee since 2006.
He’s tallied 21 assists — and only one turnover — in UNC’s last four games.
“Elliot has a gift and a talent to not only distribute and pass the ball but also distribute and pass a ball to a player where he can actually do something with it,” UNC head coach Hubert Davis said. “He’s just, instinctively, very special.”
About two weeks ago, those were the kind of words Cadeau said he “really needed to hear.”
The first-year point guard started the season with eight turnovers to match eight assists in UNC’s first three games. He lacked his normal confidence. So two days after North Carolina’s win over Lehigh on Nov. 12 — a game in which Cadeau recorded seven points, two turnovers and no assists in 21 minutes — the ACC Preseason Rookie of the Year stopped by Davis’ office.