UNC starting five

November 1, 2012 

Scouting the Tar Heels’ projected starting five

PG Marcus Paige

Fr., 6-0, 157

North Carolina coach Roy Williams made it clear that Paige will start. And with good reason, given that no one else, with perhaps the exception of transfer Luke Davis, has the skill set of a natural point guard. Paige is small – only about 160 pounds – but some of his teammates dared to say that he arrives with more potential than former North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall, who rewrote the Tar Heels’ records for assists. While Marshall was clearly a pass-first player, Paige offers more of a blend. He averaged 28.1 points as a senior at Linn-Mar High in Marion, Iowa.

SG Reggie Bullock

Jr. 6-7, 205

8.8 points, 5.1 rebounds

Bullock was a sixth man – and a good one – until Dexter Strickland’s knee injury forced him into the starting lineup midway through last season. After that, he scored in double figures in 11 of North Carolina’s final 19 games, and he was the team’s most consistent 3-point shooter. Greater things will be expected from the McDonald’s All-American in 2010. Amid all the personnel losses, Bullock perhaps has the most to gain. He will remain the team’s most capable outside scoring threat, and Bullock spent a lot of time this offseason working on his aggressiveness. He will be counted on to penetrate defenses and create scoring opportunities.

G Dexter Strickland

Sr., 6-3, 185

7.5 points, 2.1 assists, 1.3 steals

Before his injury last season, Strickland played his role well. He was the Tar Heels’ best perimeter defender, and a capable scorer when needed. But, as is the case with all of the returnees, much more will be expected of Strickland this season – particularly scoring. Strickland is already adept at getting to the basket on offense, but he needs to become a more consistent shooter. He’s also still less than a year removed from suffering that torn ACL, and it’s likely to take time to recover fully. If that’s the case, expect P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald to have a chance to start, too.

F Joel James

Fr., 6-10, 260

Several players will vie for playing time in the frontcourt, but James, a burly freshman from West Palm Beach, Fla., is likely to emerge as a starter. James is raw offensively but already should be a formidable defensive presence and a capable rebounder. He’s a more imposing physical presence than John Henson and Tyler Zeller. James has the look, and game, of a bruiser – and that’s after he lost 60 pounds late in his high school career. James didn’t play organized basketball until his sophomore year, so he has much to learn. But his potential, like is frame, is big.

F James Michael McAdoo

Soph., 6-9, 230

6.1 points, 3.9 rebounds

McAdoo arrived with expectations befitting of his status as a McDonald’s All-American, but it took him awhile to get going a season ago. When he did, in the ACC tournament and NCAA tournament, he showed glimpses of his potential – potential that has made him a preseason All-American candidate. Now, he must produce consistently. He lacked confidence during the first half of his freshman season, but overcame that and averaged 10.6 points and 4.9 rebounds in UNC’s final seven games. McAdoo didn’t always look comfortable offensively with his back to the basket last year; he will have to be comfortable with that this year.

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