Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Q&A with UNC signee James McAdoo

Norfolk (Va.) Christian forward James McAdoo, a North Carolina signee rated the No. 5 player in the Class of 2011 by ESPNU, was announced Tuesday as a participant in the 2011 Jordan Brand Classic, scheduled for April 16 at Time Warner Cable Arena.

In an exclusive telephone interview, McAdoo discussed which player he patterned his game after, his recent game against fellow UNC signee at the Smith Center, and why he decided not to graduate from high school early in 2010 to join the current Tar Heel team.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

Q: Was Michael Jordan your idol growing up?

A: He was never really my idol. My idol was definitely Dirk Nowitzki and just his game as a big man with the skill set of a guard, he’s a pioneer. I like to pioneer my game after him.

Q: How close are your skills to Nowitzki’s?

A: They’re similar. He is in the NBA, so he can definitely shoot the ball better than I can, but I’m just really trying to work on my overall game and not have any weaknesses. Whereas I know later on I may have to play more of a guard spot, or when I’m at North Carolina I may have to post up a lot more. I’m just really trying to be as versatile as I can be.

Q: What is the biggest thing you need to work on before you get to UNC?

A: I would say just my strength. Just knowing that helps with my rebounding and my ability to jump higher. I know at the college level everything is going to be faster. I just really have to be able to adapt to that quickly. That way I can make a quick impact while I’m there.

Q: Last weekend you had a chance to play against P.J. [Hairston, a fellow UNC player] at the Smith Center [when Norfolk Christian met Hargrave Military Academy]. I guess you put 33 points and 15 rebounds on them, but you lost the game. Tell me about that experience.

A: That was a big time, getting to play in the Dean Dome, where I’ll be playing next year, against one of my future teammates. We did lose the game, but everybody knows how good they [Hargrave] are. They’re not really a high school, they’re more of a prep school. So they have, I don’t know, five, six guys [who are extremely talented]. That was definitely a challenge I took on myself trying to go out there and win. But we fell short and lost by 13.

Q: How did playing on the USA Select team last summer help you?

A: It helped me out in a lot of ways. Learning how to play with other guys that are so good, where you really don’t have a lot of pressure on yourself and you don’t have pressure on your back, necessarily. It was definitely a great opportunity. USA Basketball is definitely top notch. They gave us an opportunity to go to see the world, go to Europe and build friendships from guys from all over the country who will be playing for different teams next year but hope to play together later on.

Q: You considered going early to UNC and skipping your senior high school. Why ultimately did you decide to stay, and are you happy with your decision?

A: I’m extremely happy with my decision. It’s something I haven’t thought about ever since I made the decision early in the summer. It really just came down to what I had to do myself. It’s something I prayed about a lot. I just focused on God, my family and friends. It felt like the right thing to do, to come back and be a senior. Of course, anybody, if you took their regular life away you would love to play basketball for UNC as a 17-year-old kid. But I just had to think about it, there was so much I would be missing out on that I could never get back. I’d miss my senior year, and the dances and the all-star games. These are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I’m looking forward to taking advantage of that I would have missed out on.

Ken Tysiac