Scouting projected starting five
PG Marcus Paige
Soph., 6-1, 175
8.2 ppg, 4.6 apg
Physical shortcomings limited Paige last season, but he’s stronger, and will be better prepared for the rigors of defending bigger guards and penetrating against them. Paige is as cerebral as any point guard Roy Williams has coached, but he needs to become a more consistent shooter.
“I’m the guy that thought it was going in every time Marcus (shot) it last year, because I kept saying at almost every press conference that he’s really a good shooter,” Williams said. “And late in the season, he really made some big baskets, and I think he’ll make more of them this year.”
SG Leslie McDonald
Sr., 6-5, 215
7.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg
It’s no guarantee that McDonald starts and, like P.J. Hairston, his status for the first part of the season is uncertain. McDonald is among UNC’s best perimeter shooters, but he has been streaky and Williams wants to see more consistency.
“I expect him to play his best basketball,” Williams said. “He’s a shooter, but yet he’s been a streak shooter. I need him to be a consistent shooter.”
SF P.J. Hairston
Jr., 6-6, 220
14.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg
Hairston will miss an undetermined number of games because of his off-court transgressions. When he returns, he’ll return to his role as UNC’s most potent scorer – particularly from the perimeter. Hairston is among ACC’s most effective outside shooters, and if defenders guard him too close, he can penetrate, too.
“He’s a more mature person already. … A more responsible person,” Williams said. “He was pretty doggone good defensively, and I think he’ll be a little better defensively. He was pretty doggone good offensively.”
PF James Michael McAdoo
Jr., 6-9, 230
14.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg
McAdoo will play plenty of power forward, but he’s likely to start the season at small forward, where he played during UNC’s exhibition. He’s a more comfortable offensive player when he has room to operate, as opposed to playing with his back to the basket, and if he has some help in the post – he didn’t have much last season – he could thrive.
“He’s more of a four-man than he is a three-man because of his abilities, ball-handling, everything,” Williams said. “… The good thing is, with James Michael, I still don’t know how good he’s going to be. But I know it’s a pretty doggone good problem to have.”
C Kennedy Meeks
Fr., 6-9, 285
Meeks arrived weighing nearly 320 pounds, but has lost about 35 pounds. He has the best skill set – soft hands, a quick shot, a natural rebounding ability – of the big men, though conditioning will be a work in progress. Joel James, Desmond Hubert and Brice Johnson are likely to play at the five-spot, but Meeks might have the best chance to make the position his.
“I don’t have (an ideal weight) number with Kennedy, but I know he is drastically improved from what I saw this summer,” Williams said. “... The things that Kennedy is doing right now (in practice) is vastly different than what he did during (the summer).”