Saturday, June 5, 2010

Early enrollment makes sense for UNC, maybe not McAdoo

The big news in Chapel Hill this week is that James McAdoo, the No. 3 player in the country in ESPNU's class of 2011, is contemplating an early graduation and thus early enrollment at North Carolina. This, of course, is huge. And while the impact would obviously leave the Tar Heels drastically retooled, the biggest impact on this decision is on McAdoo himself.

The obvious comparison, at this point, is the similar circumstance in which Andre Dawkins enrolled early at Duke. But make no mistake – this is different.

Dawkins was a top recruit, sure, but he didn't have anything on the potential that McAdoo brings to the table. What makes McAdoo's decision so highly anticipated is the trend it will set for players like him in the future. With the rocky marriage that is the NCAA-to-NBA eligibility rule, there will be more and more instances of coaches recruiting their programs into a corner via the feast-or-famine approach.

It's easy to think, and rightfully so, that McAdoo has the potential to make an impact right away. Anyone who thinks he can't has never seen this kid play. Sure, he's 17, but his body is older – 6-foot-8, 205. Comparisons to LeBron James' style of play have been tossed out there, and they're accurate. Don't get me wrong, this kid is not LeBron James. But he is strong and aggressive, fearless when attacking the rim. College is a tougher game, to be sure, but trust me, these kids are playing some serious high school basketball in the Tidewater region of Virignia – I grew up there.

So I don't think there's any question that he can make an impact. The real question is whether he'll get the chance to. One would have to think that a player of his talent would have to get significant minutes, rather than be rushed to campus for use in case of emergency. And while I'd be lying if I said I don't hope to see him in a Tar Heel uniform next season, I do hope that if he's here, it's because it's best for him.

One thing I'm not sure about, and perhaps someone could help me out, is whether the NBA eligibility clock starts from the date you graduate, or from the date you were originally supposed to graduate. The way I understand it, it's the former, and if that's the case, this is going to usher in a whole new era of kids trying to make the leap to the professional ranks as quickly as possible.