When time ran out on North Carolina’s season, a new clock began, one that will measure the time it will take Reggie Bullock, P.J. Hairston and James Michael McAdoo to decide whether to return for the 2013-14 season.
After the Tar Heels’ 70-58 loss against Kansas on Sunday night, none of the three gave any indication about their plans or when they might make a decision about whether to return to school or enter the NBA draft.
Of the three, McAdoo, a sophomore forward, is the only one draft analysts have consistently projected as a first-round selection. Bullock, McAdoo and Hairston each averaged about 14 points, though entering Sunday Hairston had averaged 18.5 per game since he joined the starting lineup in mid-February.
“I haven’t really thought about it, to be honest,” McAdoo said of the possibility of entering the draft.
Bullock, a junior guard, and Hairston, a sophomore, said the same thing.
It was Kansas’ eighth game in the Sprint Center this season and, after La Salle upset Kansas State on Friday, the Tar Heels lost the anti-Kansas support they would have had from the purple half of the crowd. Instead, it was an all-Kansas arena despite 6 inches of snow falling in the area.
“I think the key is it’s close to Lawrence,” said Kansas guard Travis Releford, who is from Kansas City. “Our fans come here and they give us a lot of energy. When we go down, I feel like the game’s not over at any point. With them cheering us on, giving us that energy, it helps us a lot.”
Even the two rows of seats directly behind the North Carolina bench were filled with Kansas fans. That area used to be media workspace, but the NCAA turned it into seating this tournament and sold the high-dollar seats to the general public – which in this location meant Kansas fans.
The public-address announcer also breached protocol to announce a bench warning on Tar Heels coach Roy Williams, which revved up the crowd and had North Carolina representatives screaming at the scorers’ table.
“We’ve been fortunate the last three times we played them, since I’ve been at KU,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “Last year was a coin-flip game that we made all the plays in the last four minutes. One-point game. We watched it today. Of course, we played great in ’08. Today was not one of those games.”